I love reading. I really love reading books but with little to no time left in between the chaos of raising a family and balancing it all, I will settle for anything now days : Blogs, online articles, magazines in doctor’s waiting rooms. But it hasn’t always been that way. I can remember really struggling at school to develop the kind of passion that would have me read a book voluntarily. I just didn’t enjoy the set work that came with learning how to read and it ended up becoming somewhat of a chore. Ask any kid who is forced to do something they aren’t naturally inclined to do and they will tell you it sucks the joy right out of it!
And now it would seem that history is repeating itself because my 8 year-old has for the better part of his first year (and one term) in school decided he doesn’t like reading all that much. I felt a little disappointed at first I won’t lie. I guess I kinda hoped my love for books would have to rubbed off on him a wee bit, just enough for him to give it a chance and find out what all the fuss is about. I hoped that with the right tools and just the right amount of encouragement he would fall in love with words and see the power these words have when they are assembled together on a blank page.
Don’t get me wrong, this kid is pretty disciplined with doing what he needs to do to keep up with his school work, but I want more for him. I don’t want him to just read when and because he has to. I want him to feel like he needs to read, that without it he might die… the same way he feels about his TV Games and iPad. 🙂
And although he has managed to keep up, this past term his reading started to take a bit a strain and he began falling behind a little. After meeting with his teacher and having some one-on-one time with her I had a few eye-opening realisations. I realised that his lack of passion around books wasn’t because he was lazy or because he didn’t care. It wasn’t because he wasn’t able to make sense of words. NO. I realised that I hadn’t been doing my part to cultivate his love for reading.
Here are four things that I learnt and how we changed in our approach:
- Homework time (especially reading) needs to be done in a quiet room with no distractions and with my full attention. In the rush of afternoon activities and in a busy house it can be hard to find that gap but it makes such a difference. Sitting and reading with him allows me to offer encouragement when he needs it and for him to invest himself fully into the story. It’s become so good for me too, just to have that quiet time with him where I focus solely on him and his reading. I find myself staring at him in amazement and feeling so much more present in our reading journey together.
- Homework needs to be done efficiently but at a slower pace. Before this realisation I made him rush through his homework thinking “the sooner we get it done the better!” My whole focus was just getting it done, instead of taking the time needed for him to enjoy it. Yes ENJOY it! By taking it a bit slower (in a quiet space) it becomes a fun and enjoyable experience rather than a high-pressured negative one. No wonder he wasn’t enjoying reading when we had a toddler running around screaming with one of her many battery operated toys and another big boy asking for food and a million other things every 5 seconds.
- Set work reading shouldn’t be the end focus. These book are merely there to encourage them to read something everyday. It’s important to try and go the extra mile. Giving them other book options, talking about road signs and posters, asking him to read a recipe while I cook or to tell me about what’s in his morning cereal by reading the back of the box…. I’m learning to take every opportunity, big or small to make reading a part his everyday world.
- Make finding new books fun by going to the library. My lovely nanny took all three of my kids last week (Hello holidays!) and they all came back with their own pile of books, even Hunter! Seeing Noah so excited over choosing his own books made me realise that giving him the opportunity to exercise his own independence was key. He literally gobbled up an entire chapter book in two days. I cannot wait to see what he picks out tomorrow! And for the last week or so there have even been moments where I’ve found him reading all alone in his bedroom, without me having asking him to!! The library is literally the holy grail of literature and encouraging monthly trips is one of the best things you can do for your child.
I think this whole school and homework thing and finding our groove is new to all of us. As easy as it may be to feel like I’ve ‘failed’ him, I know that I’m learning too! I think there are always going to be moments when we look back and realise that we could have done something better, but I guess that’s the power of hindsight. It gives us the opportunity to learn and change and try a different approach. As a parent who knows deep in my heart that my children’s best interests are always at the forefront of my thinking, I can rest assured knowing I will always try my best to assist them with things like this. And it’s a great thing I had these realisations now rather than later right?
What have you done that has helped cultivate a love for reading with your kids? Any other tips are welcome guys! Comment below. xxx