By Amanda Roland
Every parent wants to do the right thing for their child’s education, but sometimes it can be hard to navigate the best way to help them succeed, especially when it comes to reading. We can agree that setting our children up to be strong readers is so important, but how can we help them when they can’t sit still, have trouble focusing or simply hate reading altogether? By making the reading time with your child interactive and exciting, you’ll see your reader go from struggling to strong.
Start with where you read
Even as adults, it is easy to decide to read wherever we are most comfortable, and a lot of times that is our beds. While this seems like the perfect place to curl up with a good book, it actually could be the worst place for a beginning reader. When you read in your bed, your body starts to feel tired and relaxed as if you are getting ready for a good night’s sleep. For our kids, this could make focusing on what they are reading difficult because they could be thinking about how tired they are, or they simply may be too tired to even stay awake. To fix this, let your child find a new reading spot that they like, or create one with them. This could be on a bench by a window with their favorite stuffed animal, or you can help them make a blanket fort or “discovery cave” by draping some blankets over chairs. You and your reader can crawl in their cave with a few flashlights and see what kind of stories can be discovered in whatever book they are reading. Letting your child decide where to read might just give them the confidence they need to become a rock star reader.
Make the story come to life
Some children might find reading boring, or they may have trouble visualizing what is happening in the story. If you know that your reader is particularly artistic, have them grab some paper and colored pencils to illustrate the story. If you and your child are reading a shorter story, wait until the end of the story and ask them to draw what they read. Or if it is a chapter book, have them illustrate a scene after each chapter. Encourage them to go into detail with colors and names of characters. This will not only allow them to mix something they love with reading, but it will help them better comprehend what they read. Also, if your child has comprehension tests in class on what they read, make sure to keep the illustrations so they can visually study for their tests. This technique will produce an active reader who is able to better visualize what they are reading.
Involve your other children
If you have multiple children, have your beginning reader read to them or with them instead of just you. While it’s very rewarding to sit with your children while you read together, it is important that your children learn to read with people other than just their parents. If your learning reader has an older sibling that they look up to, have them read together. If they see their older sibling enjoying what they are reading, it might encourage them to what to be just like their big brother or sister. Or if you have little ones even littler than your reader, ask your reader to read their baby brother or sister a story before bed. This will make them feel accomplished and proud that they get to read to their little sibling. What could be better than seeing your children spend time together while watching your beginning reader improve? These tips could be just what your learning reader needs to get them excited about reading. Make their reading time interactive, and watch your learning reader turn in to the strong reader you know they can be.
Teacher Tip: Reader's theater is a popular reading strategy used in the classroom that can easily be practiced at home. Simply take any story and turn it into a play. Assign roles for you and your child and act out the parts of the story together. Encourage your child to have a loud, expressive voice while reading their lines fluently.