Why won’t my kids read
Many studies have been proved what common sense told us years ago; the more kids read the better they read and the more pleasure they get out of reading, unfortunately it also works the other way round the less they read the worse reading skills and reading becomes a struggle which they avoid whenever possible.
Many parents us me how they can encourage their children to read? Well, first you must find the reasons why your child doesn’t like reading and then work to motivate your child to discover how much fun reading can be.
Why don’t some kids like reading?
Well, kids have a wide range of reasons for not reading:
• It’s boring ; when kids are sent reading assignments from school they can prove boring but don’t despair you can expose them to other kind of reading at home which is more related to their interests.
• I don’t have time : this sometimes can be true nowadays kids have school work, social relationships, sports, homework, TV, playing, chores, etc. But many times their schedule is very badly organised as they don’t know how to prioritise, so it can be as simple as helping them sort out a more productive schedule.
• It’s too hard : for some kids it can be slow and difficult, sometimes you may have to start with an easier level until your child picks up a good pace and starts reading fluently.
• It’s not important : children don’t usually appreciate how reading can be useful or relevant in their lives, it’s up to the parents to get them to see the importance of reading.
• It’s no fun : for some children, specially if they find reading hard, books can cause anxiety, it’s essential to take pressure off reading so your child can enjoy it.
What won’t work.
Unfortunately many of the techniques used by parents to get their child reading usually have a negative effect and many time only strengthen their child’s resistance to reading :
• Nagging : lecturing your child or nagging all day long about reading will only obtain a more determined negative approach to reading.
• Bribing : there is nothing really wrong with rewarding your child’s reading efforts you don’t want your child to expect a prize after finished every book. It is better to offer another book or magazine preferable your child’s choice along with words of praise. On some occasion you can give some other rewards but offer these less frequently. In time your child will appreciate reading as a reward.
• Judging your child’s achievements : you should always separate school reading performance from pleasure reading and if necessary help your child enjoy reading.
• Criticising your child’s choices : many a times parents expect their child to read a specific type of book or criticise certain types of reading, reading almost anything is far better than reading nothing. Although you feel your child is choosing a book that is too easy or that doesn’t have a high cultural content you must hide your disappointment. At this point reading at any level is valuable and successful reading helps to build confidence as well as reading skills.
• Setting unrealistic goals : look for small signs of improvement and progress and not dramatic changes in your child’s reading habits, don’t expect them to become fast readers overnight.
• Making a big deal about reading : avoid turning reading into a personal vendetta, when children are under pressure they will probably read to satisfy their parents and not themselves.
20 ways to encourage reading.
1. Look for books that your children like to read, use their interests and hobbies as a guide.
2. Leave different type of reading material: books, magazines, comics, etc in different places around your home.
3. Notice what topics attract your children’s attention.
4. Set an example; let your children see you reading in your spare time.
5. Take your children to the library regularly and explore the books together.
6. Present reading as an activity with a final objective a way to gather information to plan a family trip or to look up toy cars
7. Encourage older children to read to their younger siblings, older kids enjoy showing off and they will be very chuffed with their attention.
8. Play games that are reading related, games like Scrabble or games that involve reading spaces, card or directions are a great help.
9. Over dinner it would be good to share your reactions to things you have read for example in the newspaper and encourage your children to do likewise.
10. Set aside a regular time for family reading, 20 minutes a day can prove very useful to improve your kid’s reading skills.
11. Read aloud to your child, the pleasure of listening to you read rather than struggling to read can restore your child’s enthusiasm for reading.
12. Encourage your child to read you an exciting passage he/she has discovered, a joke in a book, an article in a newspaper … When children read aloud, don’t correct them constantly even good readers skip or mispronounce words sometimes.
13. On birthdays, Christmas or other gift-giving dates give your child books and magazines base on their own interests,
14. Organise a special place for your children to keep their books.
15. Teach them to use a bookmark, show them how they can stop after a few pages and start off another time, you can even collect bookmarks to add more fun to reading. Don’t try and persuade your child to read a book they don’t like, recommend them to put it aside and choose another.
16. Treat your children occasionally to an evening of family fun reading, reading doesn’t have to be a serious activity, a joke book or riddle book can prove very useful.
17. Follow up with their positive experiences, for example if they enjoyed a book about space take them to the astronomy centre.
18. Offer special incentives to encourage your child’s reading, for example allow them to stay up 15-30 minutes extra to finish a chapter, promise to take your child to see a movie when they finish reading the book it was based on. You can even free your child from a regular chore to give him/her more reading time.
19. Limit your child’s TV time and never use TV as a reward for reading or a punishment for not reading.
20. Not all reading must be books, use brochures, food labels, menus … to practise reading.
Keith Appleby (Chief Editor)
The Canary Express