[By Claire Chadwick]
There is this enormous amount of information and research on why it’s important to read to kids, and expose them to a world of literacy from a young age. As an author, teacher and a parent I fully support this information. But what happens if your child, despite your best efforts, dislikes books and reading.
It can make schooling, homework and bonding time; very hard. And hard can usually lead to giving up, complete disinterest or an anxious outlook.
Learning to read can be overwhelming and unenjoyable for some children. If you’re sensing a great stress around the early stages of learning to read, slow down with your expectations and don’t push them to achieve or learn any faster. Make reading enjoyable and easy, by getting back into the role of the reader as apposed to the listener. Read to your children and make it fun and interesting. Talk to them about words and spelling and picture cues. Get them predicting and questioning. Let them ‘read’ through visuals.
What do they love?
Focus on the topics and subjects that your kid/s enjoy or have an interest in. They may be passionate about trucks or insects, dancing or fairies, gardening, machinery or under the sea. It may be a character or series that they’ve taken a liking to or a TV show that they love watching. Source books from the local library or bookstore that are based around this theme or concept, and encourage them to choose the books themselves.
Communicate with your child’s teachers or educators.
I can’t help but wonder if both learning difficulties and learning giftedness is heavily over-diagnosed these days. Just because your child is not enjoying reading and/or having troubles grasping the introductory reading skills, doesn’t mean they have a learning disability. But keep an open mind and communicate with their teachers or carers. Talk to them about your concerns and listen to theirs. Come up with ways to work together, with the child to make some positive improvements or changes. Discuss ways to increase reading interest and ability in the classroom as well as at home.
Reading doesn’t always have to be about books.
If your child is really disinterested in reading books, try to teach and experience reading with them in other settings. Read aloud road signs and messages on TV. Get them looking at maps with you or letters you receive in the mail. See if they are interested in comics or child-appropriate magazines. Try out some online reading games or download some educational apps onto your phone or iPad for them to engage with. Build their reading confidence before expecting them to decode books. Sometimes, whole physical books can be very overwhelming to a little person.
And lastly, try to model to them that reading (like most new things in life) takes time and persistence. Encourage them and congratulate them, even for the most basic of achievements like recognising a letter, sound or sight word. Make reading and learning FUN, not stressful.
Claire Chadwick is a mother of two, a wife, a children’s Author and a life lover. She was a Primary School Teacher for ten years before she embarked on Motherhood, and freelance writing. She is a lover of summer, coffee, the colour pink and hearing her children laugh. Claire blogs daily about parenting and life from her Brisbane home at www.claireeverafter.com and has recently launched a successful and fun children’s book called So Many Sounds. You can find out more about Claire and her book at: www.clairechadwick.com.au Claire believes in living a wholesome life full of rich memories and cherished moments. Her weaknesses: designer handbags, good champagne and a jar of Nutella.