The Department of Education cites reading aloud with children as the number one way to build successful readers. The goal is reading aloud to children for a minimum of 20 minutes a day in order to build a love of stories and books. Reading aloud with very young children can be a challenge.
Here are a few tips to keep it going:
- Start from day one and build it into your routine – The idea is to start reading aloud early, before you think they are really listening. Make it a habit from the beginning. Books offer a well edited version of the language which is beneficial for young children to hear.
- As an alternative, spend time just looking at, labeling and talking about pictures together – As your baby is a little older, they might not have the patience for listening to stories. It is beneficial to share time with books in other ways. Spend time looking at the pictures together, point to and label objects, have them find new objects. It’s fine to just look for and label colors, or tell pieces of stories in your own words as well.
- Read aloud daily even if they aren’t paying much attention – Once your toddler is up and moving around, they might not want to sit long enough for a story. Let’s say you try to read, and they are up and down to play with toys. At least occasionally, the answer is to stay seated yourself and continue to read aloud. They are in the room so they’re still hearing the language. You are also modeling reading aloud.
- Read aloud when you have a captive audience – Read aloud when riding in the car, or when you are waiting in line at the grocery store and they are buckled into the cart.
- Share more active books – Introducing lift-the-flap books, puppet books, pop-up books and picture search books can increase their interest.
- Go for books based on their interests – Okay, this is an obvious one but if they love trains, go for train books often.
Throughout your child’s education, it is important to build a sense of home-school connection. There is benefit for your child’s academic motivation if they feel you value their school, and that their school welcomes you. There are so many ways you can work to build this bridge.
- Take an interest in their progress – Ask how school is going, what they do or don’t enjoy about their day and keep up with their grades. This also allows you to intervene early if there is a concern.
- Check and discuss their homework – Unless their teacher says otherwise, err on the side of checking homework for completeness and effort rather than accuracy. If you do check for accuracy, make a note to let the teacher know where they originally struggled.
- Expand on school learning – If they are learning about a war, take them to that monument. If they are learning to count money, make them the family banker who pays with cash and counts in both directions for every purchase.
- Participate at school when and how you can – If you have the time, be a room parent. If not, go on the fieldtrips and send in supplies whenever you can. Be sure to meet the teacher, and at least keep up with the PTA.
Other way to build motivation:
- Read aloud everyday – Reading skills are essential for success across academic subjects. Building a love of reading and related skills is a strong piece of later academic motivation.
- Help them to fully investigate their own areas of interest – If your child is interested in the rainforest, take them to the rainforest room at the aquarium and the zoo, watch the rainforest episode of Magic School Bus or join the Rainforest Alliance.
- Share your own learning – Let them know when you take classes or read books on new topics, let them know you are excited about learning.
To learn more about this and other ways to build motivation and manage homework, join me for my workshop on Managing Homework and Academic Motivation. This is scheduled for September 18th from 7:00-9:00 p.m. For more information and to register, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/org/283710166?s=1328924.
I’d like to share a few of our holiday traditions that revolve around reading. We’ve compiled a stack of 25 Christmas themed picture books. Each night, starting on the first of the month we include one in our read aloud time before bed. On the night of the 25th, we read what was their favorite The Sweet Smell of Christmas by Scarry.
Each Christmas morning there are three new books for each child under the tree. I recognize they quickly get set aside for the toys and tech gadgets, but I think it is important to have books be a piece of the gift exchange. As they’ve gotten older, we’ve branched out with more reading related gifts. This includes book marks, box sets, a writing journal, magazine subsriptions (thanks grandpa!) and now a kindle. I recently read a suggestion to wrap one book and leave it on the child’s bed, so the first thing they open on Christmas morning is a new book. For you last minute shoppers, http://www.bookswithbows.com/DanaHome.asp is an online service that sends your loved one a book-a-month based on the categories you select.
You might also check these great holiday reading tips from Reading Is Fundamental http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTgEorSmd7o&feature=youtu.be. In this clip, Dr. Judy Cheatham reviews tips to build a love of reading over the holidays. Enjoy!