‘My child hates to read’. It is one of the most ticked boxes on our assessment form. Very often, the parent loves reading and wants to pass on and share that love of reading with their child. One granny brought her grandson to us as he was struggling with his reading. They had a very close bond but she found that whenever she would give him a book as a gift he would shy away & it was beginning to distance them a little. He did our program and once he started to read for meaning, they were able to read books together and discuss them. His granny told me that she was now able to share books and stories with him that she had shared with her own children and that her mum had shared with her. She had really wanted him to feel that sense of connection and now he did.
But kids are really good at getting out of things that they don’t want to do, so sometimes we adults have to be a little devious ourselves and here’s how….
‘Wiggle? But I want them to sit down and read a book!’. I hear you, but there is no point in forcing a child to sit down & read when they want to be up and about. One of the best ways to get them reading is WHEN they are worn out! Reading is a wonderful way to relax & unwind.
So get the wiggles out. Over the holidays run the legs off of them. Get them bouncing on the trampolines, swimming in the sea, kicking balls off of walls. Encourage them to move around as much as possible and afterwards, instead of the computer or phone or TV, allow them to curl up with a book. It will teach them to become more grounded and focused.
Allow them to be creative, so that when they need more knowledge on how to make something they have to read up on it themselves.
I am a huge fan of movement so if your child needs to move you can find out more here : Fidget to Focus
At Hummingbird Learning Centre, when teaching reluctant readers to read fluently, scanning is the difference that makes the difference. I find that kids who read slowly are not reading for meaning, they are just reading words. Scanning the page before reading helps to inform the brain about what is coming next so it starts to create an outline of the story. Reading then puts the pictures together to create meaning.
You can help your child to learn the skill of scanning in many ways. Ask them to check if anything is missing when the table is set. They will have to scan what is on the table & mentally compare it to images that they already have of a properly set table. Or you could play a game where you show them a few items for a moment, have them turn away, remove one item and ask them to tell you what it was. Have them look at clothes on the line – just a quick scan & ask them to tell you what was on it. Make up your own games – you know your child best!
Jamie Oliver is 100% right. It is really important that children eat nutritious food. If they are not eating properly it is really going to affect their focus and concentration. You don’t have to ban all the treats & force feed them hummus and quinoa; just get a good balanced diet into them.
And what better than getting your kids into preparing their own food. You can also sneakily get them reading too. Allow them to help you as you are cooking or baking. Have the recipe book out and ask them to tell you what to do next. Never directly ask them to read it, they might figure out that you have ulterior motives. Get them measuring and using kitchen equipment (under your supervision of course). Now they are doing maths as well as reading!
Have them decide what is for dinner one day next week & allow them to help you make it. They read the recipe and write out the list of ingredients needed. When you’re shopping, give them the list and ask them to get the items for you. Have them check the labels. All of this makes them into accidental readers.
Get talking to your kids about what interests them. There is always a news story that can spark a conversation. Facebook is great for this. Today a friend of mine posted a link to a video about a turtle farm on the Cayman islands. Show something like this to your kids. If they like it, google for more information, have them read about it. Maybe it triggers an interest in sharks, talk about sharks, look it up on the internet and finally get a book from the library about sharks. Don’t send them in for it straight away. Get it yourself & bring it home.
Be coy in your approach. Kids will know when they are being led & will baulk at being strong armed. For lots of kids, factual books hold no interest (yet). Facts are boring because they tend to be associated with school & learning. If your child is a reluctant reader, it is because they are associating reading with bad feelings about themselves. None of us likes to feel bad and we all do our best avoid situations where we are going to have bad feelings. Kids are exactly the same. The only thing is that they have no control over being in such a situation as they have to go to school.
That is why, once they are out of school, where they have more control over their lives, they will avoid reading as it makes them feel bad.