Despite generation gaps and technological advancements, one habit has survived well into the modern age – the habit of reading. It was common for our parents to advise, “You should read more instead of just playing all day,” but today, our children have many more avenues for entertainment (or distraction, as you will) at their disposal.
TV, iPad, Phones, Laptops, Gaming Consoles – there’s a ‘smart’ version of every household gadget available now. So how do we, as parents and teachers, raise our children to be readers?
Read on to find out!
- What kind of learner is your child?
As a parent, you are best suited to answer this question. There are two primary types of learners – those who take in whatever they see, visual learners, and those who learn by listening, auditory learners.
Does your child spend hours looking at pictures or the sights around them? Do they repeat words and phrases they hear? The answers to these questions would help determine what kind of learner your child is.
- Incentivize reading
Being a parent is a hard job. You have to juggle multiple roles at once – negotiator, coach, friend, and even advertiser. Wait, advertiser?
Many beloved cartoons and popular kids’ movies draw inspiration from books. You could make movie night a reward when your child completes reading a book on which the film is based. You could also engage in a fun discussion about the differences they found between the two media and slowly ease your child into enjoying the process of reading. Make sure you avoid laying too much emphasis on completing the book without comprehending it. Children easily fall for this trap wherein they want to impress you about how many books they have read, and this can distort the motive that underlies the habit of reading.
- Start small
Getting children thick books right at the start is comparable to making them sit on a bicycle and asking them to get it right without a fall.
If you’re starting early, it’s best to start with picture books. You could also try children’s comics. Gradually move from thinner books and shorter stories to full-length novels.
- Make it a team effort
Reading time could become the new family time in your house if your child is an auditory learner. For example, you could each take turns reading one chapter every night before your child’s bedtime.
If you’re just introducing your child to big books, reading aloud is an excellent idea because it replaces the fun element of picture books with a new fun element – character voices and intonations. Make sure you unleash your talent and create a persona for each character so that when they start reading on their own, the entire process is much more enjoyable for them.
- What if you aren’t a reader but want your child to be?
In this case, you could talk to your child openly about the benefits of reading and how you have wanted to, yet never could quite get into the habit. Then, you could ask them for help. Have them read aloud or explain each chapter to you as it enkindles an affinity towards reading and makes children feel proud about themselves.
You could also consider enrolling them in early reading classes. The guidance of an adult, along with a unique course structure, is usually the difference between “Yes, I read books” and “I love reading!”.
- Use it well, and technology is a blessing!
There are plenty of great tech-friendly options for both auditory and visual learners.
Audiobooks are an auditory learner’s best friend. For this format, we recommend Audible and Epic. Listening along with your children and running your finger through the words being read could help improve their focus and connect visually to what they hear.
We have also tried and loved the e-books on Amazon, Epic and Reader Rabbit. With these options, you need not worry about eliminating the distraction of a gadget and instead turn it into a tool for fostering a good habit in your child.
- Too much of a good thing, though…
Anything in excess is harmful – yes, even reading.
Growing children face tremendous pressure from peers and their general environment. Children may display signs of obsessive reading at this stage, such as reading under the covers, in washrooms, at the dinner table, and even when they are out socially. Here, reading may be an unhealthy coping mechanism for social anxiety, and it is the responsibility of adults in their lives to tackle any existing social issue or awkwardness
Work with other adults in your child’s life, including teachers, to understand and discuss the best course of action to tackle this issue. Often, positive affirmation and gentle reinforcement are all it takes for children to feel better.
The magical world of books is one that every child must experience. With these simple steps, you can get your child started on their reading adventure.
Oh, the places they’ll go!
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