Tips to Encourage Your Child To Read
This is key! Make reading fun by reading together. Kids are far more likely to read if it is a group activity! Some children enjoy reading enough that they will just pick up a book and ready by themselves, quite happily. Usually, it is the children that struggle with reading or find it difficult that need more encouragement. Reading with them is a great way to make reading more fun, rather than a task. And, to monitor and develop their reading skills!
2. Think Outside the Book
Be clever with reading. It doesn’t have to be straight out of a book. There are words everywhere. As you drive to school, ask your child what the road signs say. Ask them to read out the instructions of a new toy or board game, there are even interactive reading programmes online. Use your imagination. For some children, books are hard work, and it discourages reading.
By thinking outside of the books you may encourage them to read more often and become more confident with reading aloud. Other great ideas include getting them to help you write and sound out the spelling of items on a shopping list, putting on the subtitles on the TV to watch a movie, encourage games that use words, or labelling items in the kitchen cupboard – making it interactive and fun will definitely keep your little one excited to read!
This leads nicely into the next tip.
3. Fun, Fun and Fun
If it is fun, your child will be more inclined to want to read. Associating reading with fun and interactive activities will create excitement. Reading sometimes becomes a chore, especially once a child starts school, and reading becomes part of homework. It’s easier to start young and make reading fun from the start. Keep your child engaged by asking them questions about the story they are reading, perhaps read a story to them and let them fill in the blanks, make it into production or play.
If your child is a visual learner you could even make it messy. Get some paints and spell out a word for them to write down on a big sheet of paper, after they have spelt it, get them to sound it out – and tell you what the word says.
Maybe make it into a spider diagram of things related to the word. Like a word association game. Reading doesn’t have to be words on a page or a simple book. It can be fun, and for children, it should be. Get your thinking cap on, and come up with some cool ideas to make reading fun!
4. Stickers and Stars
So, you’ve got your child engaged, now to keep them engaged. Rewards are a perfect way to do this. Positive reinforcement is an excellent way of keeping alive the thrill of reading. Perhaps make a star chart, and every night, once you’ve done a certain amount of time reading or a certain number of pages, your child gets to put a star sticker on their sticker chart.
Or go with graphs, again if your child is a visual learner, this is great. A graph of how many pages have been read, how many new words they have learnt, how many stories they have written, how many characters they have met. Quantifying it makes it possible to see how much your child has achieved, and by putting it into a simple graph they are able to see exactly how much progress they are making. The most simple form of motivation, and possibly the oldest, is a book card. Who doesn’t remember book challenges from their local library?
A simple card that can be stamped after each book is finished may be enough to keep your child engaged. Make sure there is a reward. After your child has reached a goal set by the both of you, perhaps meeting 4 new characters, then reward your child. It doesn’t have to be a crazy gift. The stickers may be enough of a reward for some, but you could go a little further and perhaps take them on a day out after they’ve reached a goal, or even – Buy them a new book!
5. Say No to Chores
This is perhaps the only time chores may be a bad thing. Reading, for your child, should be a choice and not a chore. This means letting them choose what they want to read (within reason). Obviously, monitor the books they are choosing, ensuring the books match your child’s reading level, and are appropriate.
But, encourage and guide rather than force. Let your child’s interests and hobbies direct them to the books they want to read. It will be a struggle to keep a child engaged if they are being forced to read a book that has no emotional spark or ‘hot button’. The hot button is spoken about a lot in sales training. And, essentially, you are selling reading to your child. Find their hot button, and you’ve unlocked the secret to happy reading. Does your child like science, fantasy, animals, football.
Take note of your child’s interests, and the books they would like to read should follow. If your child loves to escape to fantasy worlds and create mythical creatures, there’s no use in forcing them to read a book about how plants grow. Having a variety of books available will help! Regular visits to a library, a collection of books at home, a tablet with a store of books available (make sure the blue light is controlled, especially at bedtime). Make suggestions, but don’t take the lead when it comes to book choices.
6. The Never Ending Story
Just because the book is closed, the story shouldn’t end. Talk about the books, and encourage the conversation to carry on after the reading has stopped. Ask them questions, encourage them to create the ending or ask how they would change the story. Perhaps write a letter with your child to his or her favourite author. Look for local kids book clubs, or even start your own! Don’t let the story end.
7. I’m Late, I’m Late, For a Very Important Date!
TIME. This is so important. Make the time to sit with your child and read. Regardless of how motivated your child is, he or she will not read if there isn’t any time to do so! Especially if you have promised time to read, and then not done so. Dedicate some time to read together. The key thing is to plan. try not to make it irregular and rushed, or interrupted.
Time should be set aside to read, to keep distraction to a minimum. By doing so, you will create the essence that reading is important. Just as important as gym or rugby practise. Make the time!