Encouraging children to read outside of school has always been a challenge, and society’s growing dependence on television and smartphones has made it even more so. If your children are spending too much time watching screens, try these six tips to encourage them to choose books instead.
Lead by example
As a parent, you are the first and most important role model for your children. If you are watching hours of TV or checking Facebook all night, your kids will notice and are likely to pick up your bad habits.
If you make reading a priority in your own life, your children will learn from your behaviors. Even if you’re busy, set small goals that you both can achieve, like trying to finish at least one novel per month.
Create a routine
Establishing a routine is a great way to make sure a new habit sticks. Study your current schedule and decide on recurring blocks of time that you can dedicate to reading, like right after school or before bedtime.
You can also add weekly or bi-monthly trips to the library into your routine. Take every chance you can to incorporate reading into your child’s everyday life.
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Reading is usually a solitary pursuit, but if your child has a short attention span, it may be better to make it a group activity. Try choosing a book that you will both enjoy, and take turns reading aloud to each other.
Reading the same book also allows for better discussion of the story afterwards. By sharing your thoughts and feelings with each other, your child will gain a better understanding of the story’s central ideas and themes.
Let them choose
Children often don’t enjoy reading for school because the novels are forced upon them. While it is important to read the classics, it may be better if they choose lighter, more “fun” reading material at home.
Consider your child’s unique interests and suggest books that follow the same themes. Give them a sense of control by letting them have the final say. Also, never force them to finish a book they aren’t enjoying, as they may get frustrated and discouraged.
Make it fun
Make the transition from playtime to reading time easier by turning reading time into a game. Try setting reasonable goals for your children, such as reading a certain number of pages per week. Keep score and offer fun rewards when their goals are met.
Sometimes a change of setting can help as well. Take your books to a park, a beach, or a museum, and spend the afternoon reading together.
Try an e-reader
If your child is resisting traditional paper books, try having them use an e-reader instead. They may feel more open to reading while using something that is more technologically advanced. E-readers are light and user-friendly, and many are reasonably priced.
Newer e-readers also have some helpful features that books don’t, such as allowing you to change the text size, take notes, and see word definitions. These extra features can greatly improve your child’s reading comprehension.
Establishing consistent reading habits is important for your child’s development, so start encouraging reading time as early as possible. By using these six tips, even reluctant children will learn to discover new worlds and ideas through reading.