Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Does Your Child Struggle to Read? Tips for Parents

Does your child struggle to read what you (the parent) consider to be the simplest of words? There could be a very good reason for this!

Parents already know that books are vital to their child’s scholastic achievements, and developing life skills. It can be disappointing when your child expresses absolutely no interest in reading. Reading is a skill, just like any other skill. It has to be introduced, nurtured, and developed. Imagine trying to play championship tennis when you can barely hit the ball? Children don’t enjoy what they can’t do. And when reading is difficult, they shy away from even coming near a book. Your child may not display any interest in reading because they are actually struggling with it. Turning your non-reader into a reader will require your participation and encouragement every step of the way. You can do this by coming up with new and interesting ways to ‘package’ the art of reading.

A good way to begin is to actually assess your child’s reading level. If it’s below par, then that’s one reason why he or she isn’t keen on books—books are the enemy, boring, a problem. Have your child read a page or two from a variety of books. Make a list of the words they find easy/hard/not understood. Once you have an idea of their level, based on vocabulary skills, then you can move forward. In fact, to build your child’s confidence, perhaps begin with a book for a younger age. Your child will skim through it, feeling proud at having finished and understood it, and you can offer praise by saying, “Look how easily you managed that! Shall we try something else?”

A thick book can appear quite a formidable object to a non-reader. Begin small. Start with a thinner book, not some great tome, and say, “I bet we’ll finish this quickly.” Then let your child read the book in bite-sized pieces. Don’t try for ten pages—read only four or five pages. Your child will feel this is not a huge task after all.

Reading aloud is something that all parents should do, regardless of children’s age. Most children really love that special time when Mom or Dad comes in to say good night. You can say, “Hey! I’ve got something really exciting here. Want to hear some?” Anything to delay turning off the light, your child will say (of course) “Yeah!” You can make this session into something really memorable by acting the parts and using your Repertoire of Funny Voices, but more importantly, stop at a really exciting point, just when the hero is about to be plunged into mortal danger. Close the book and say, “Gosh! I hope he survives. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out.” Generally, no kid can go to sleep without confirming their hero is indeed still alive…

Praise and admiration boost a child’s confidence. You can do this by letting friends and family members know just how well your child is doing. “It’s amazing how many pages (child’s name) is reading every day now!” Soon your child will be the one to suggest reading. Use the time together to understand your child’s thought processes, and structure the book choices around what really sparks their interest.

Get your child their own library card and encourage them to begin choosing their own material. This will make your child feel important and that their opinions matter. Buying book vouchers instead of other kinds of gifts will encourage your child to start building their own collection of cherished books. Why not get your child a really nice bookcase and say, "We'll fill this soon with great books!" Ownership is important to any child and they will feel they will soon be the proud possessor of "great books."

• Go slowly—tennis champions aren’t made overnight….


Jambo said...

Thanks for a wonderful post Fiona. We have started out well with our 22 month old but these are such great tips, as who knows how she will like reading in the future. I was not a reader as a child either. Thanks for linking in to the Kid Lit Blog Hop

Fiona Ingram said...

The most important things to remember are: read together what interests your child and make that special time a really fun part of the day/night ritual.

Renee C. said...

So much is ringing true. I can totally vouch for thicker books being intimidating for emerging readers. My son is like that - just last night he had to pick a new book to read from among his library books and he had 2 to chose from - a thin one and a thick one. He chose the shorter one, literally saying, "This one's too long". They really do find it overwhelming when the page density is too high.

My daughter, who is 10, LOVES it when I read aloud. I'm not sure we'll ever stop doing that! :)

Thanks for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop once again Fiona.

Ang Paris said...

Thank you so much for linking up on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!
What a great piece, thank you for sharing!
Happy Thursday,