Studies show that if you read with your children they’re more likely to be successful in the long run. By encouraging your children to put themselves into the story, they’re able to better understand the thoughts and motivations of others, developing their own intellectual empathy.
If such a simple thing can have such a great impact on your child’s life, why doesn’t everyone practice this activity every day? Life is busy, especially for parents. So, even though you may have the best of intentions, it’s all too easy for reading to fall by the wayside or to be squeezed in as a last-minute addition before bedtime.
Here are 5 practical tips to help make sure that your reading time is the most beneficial it can be.
1. Create a culture of reading Read to your kids. Read around your kids. Talk about reading and create an environment where your children look forward to doing it once they’re old enough to. The saying “do as I say, not as I do”, does not always work on children – you need to do as you say too. So, read your own books and encourage them to the same. Browse second hand books stores with them and share the treasures you find, explore different genres, and if you’re able to, incentivise them! A small treat for every ten pages or book they read can go a long way.
2. Start early Read to your children long before they turn one, even if you’re simply reading your own book or magazine aloud. Try to begin building a book collection for them now. As they grow, you can begin to teach them how to hold the books, look at the pictures and pay attention to the story. By acting out the stories and having fun with it, your kids are sure to be engaged. Then, once they have learned how to read themselves, you can encourage them to read aloud to you.
3. Fit it into your regular schedule All it takes is 15 minutes. Think about when you spend the most time together with your kids, and use 15 minutes of that time for reading. Whether it’s when you have breakfast together, are en-route to their school or while you’re cooking. Do you watch TV together as a family? Perhaps the time you need is right there, use a little bit of TV time for reading instead.
4. Don’t be rigid Your attitude towards reading is easily transferrable to your kids. Rather than making it a task, make it a pleasurable experience that they look forward to. For the young ones, this could mean books with different textures or pop-ups. For older ones, this could mean allowing them to choose the book or genre. Be flexible with the times you do your reading, which materials you read, as well as understanding when your kids may just not be in the mood. Allow them the room to create their own reading habits and be open to nurturing their own growth.
5. Even when you don’t read, speak about it Of course the situation is that you won’t always have the time to read with your kids. But when this happens, how about just talking about what you’ve read? Speak through the book they may be reading at school and what they still plan to read in the future. Ask if they think the characters made good decisions, or how they would have done things differently. Reading is nothing without thinking and learning, right? The growth comes from the conversations that you have afterwards and this way you get to see what insights they have and how they’re developing certain ideas and opinions.