We’re still at the beginning of our experiment to produce an avid reader as Martha is only five, but she’s already showing an interest in books and reads for enjoyment. With book-obsessed parents, she’s definitely had a head start, but just like other kids, she’s not always in the mood for reading. Here are some techniques that have worked for us:
Create a Reading Habit
This only has to be for 10 minutes a day, but create a set time and place where your child can read to you. We make space for this as soon as we get home from school and sit in the same chair each time. Afterwards Martha has a snack and a play, but she knows that this has to read her pages first. It’s much harder to get her to sit down later on as she’s either too tired or distracted. We make this time fun and cosy so it’s not a chore.
Break it Up
When Martha is struggling with a school book, we don’t force her to read it all in one go. Instead we focus on getting her to sound out the words slowly encouraging her for effort then call it a day after a few pages. It’s better for both of us to finish the activity on a positive note rather than turn reading into a frustrating experience.
Encourage Your Reader
Rather than tell her that she’s got a word wrong, we ask her to try again or sound it out. This one is pretty hard to do because we know the words so well ourselves, but if we always say ‘no’, or ‘that’s wrong’, we’ve noticed that it makes her wary about reading. We aim to keep it neutral or positive and motivate her to problem solve on her own. This doesn’t mean praising indiscriminately, just choosing how we point out errors.
Let Them Take Control
Children love to be in charge. We ask Martha to explain the story to us and point out details. She gets satisfaction from being in the driving seat.
Set An Example
It’s tough to find time to read books when we have busy lives, but if you can show your child that you enjoy reading then they’re much more likely to have a go themselves. If you don’t have time to pick up a book yourself, then factor in 10 minutes to read to them before bedtime – that way you’ll both be able to enjoy the story together. Martha knows we love books and so she loves them too.
So for us it’s mainly about keeping it routine, bitesized and fun. Have you tried any of the above or have any other tips for encouraging children to read ? We’d love to try them out!