Developing the habit of reading in children is one thing a lot of parents struggle with. Unlike playing which comes naturally, children have to learn how to read and they can only do this through the guidance of parents or anyone in a teaching capacity such as grandparents, uncles, aunties etc.
Some parents find this to be an enormous task that requires much effort to overcome. This ends up stressing parents when they do not seem to make progress in that regard. This does not have to be the case for you as a parent. There are several things that a parent can do to get their children to develop the habit of reading.
Though it seems like a lifetime ago, there was a time in my life when I did not like reading. I found it very irritating and whenever I picked up a book to read, I would end up daydreaming behind it. My parents would scream, yell and even punish me, and I would not even be bothered to pick up a book. The more my parents insisted, the less I read out of spite. There came a point when I could tell that my parents had had enough of it. Their tone and demeanour gave me the impression that they were gradually giving up on me.
I had a teacher in school who saw the potential that I had, despite my apparent laziness when it came to reading and decided to help me out. I easily consider him as my favourite teacher of all time and I am glad I met him. I recently used the technique he used on me for my little nephews and a few other children and it has yielded some amazing results.
Mind you, all the points stated here are through my experiences both as the student and also as the teacher. If I had not tried it on my nephews and a few other children, I would not even have considered sharing it. I know the struggle a little too well that is why I believe that parents should also know these techniques.
4 ways to teach your children to love reading:
1. Lots and lots of pictures
Parents need to understand that children are mainly moved by what they see. That is why parents need to get books with few words but lots of pictures. It does not stop there, parents will have to read to children but stop half way or when the story gets interesting. Once this happens, you ask the child to read it and tell you the story. You should be there as a parent to assist when necessary.
In my case, it was comics that did the trick. My friends and I would always be discussing the Superman animated series and pretend we were like Superman. The teacher saw this and brought us lots of Superman comics. The agreement would be that, we would read the comics during lunch and then after lunch, we would narrate the story to him. Whoever was not able to narrate would not get another comic book. This motivated me to read so that I could get the next book to read.
In time, I was reading more than 3 comic books before the lunch break was over. I had unconsciously developed the habit of reading just because of comics or more specifically, Superman.
I repeated this same thing with my nephews and they are really taking it well. At first, it would take them about an hour to go through one book but now they do it in less than 15 minutes. They are not only quick now, but they know how to pronounce certain difficult words.
2. Group Reading
One of the best ways to get results from people is to put them into groups and give them a goal to reach. This logic really applies well to children. Allowing children read as a group really encourages them.
Each child is assigned at least 2 paragraphs in a chapter of a book that will be read aloud. The children are then asked to read, with each child reading the paragraph assigned to them. This means that they have to pay attention when the other is reading so that they do not look confused when it is their turn to read.
They are later asked to read another chapter as a group but instead of reading paragraph by paragraph, they each read the chapter individually. When it is time to read aloud, you can award points for expression and pronunciation. Groups that top the class are rewarded.
When we started group reading in class, my group was neither first nor last. We were always in the middle of the bunch. When the rewards became very interesting, I stepped up my game. I started spending more time with my books and learning how to pronounce difficult words. My group won a couple of times and we were rewarded with lunch at an expensive restaurant and the chance to stay 30 minutes longer in the computer lab just to play Need For Speed Hot Pursuit 2.
Asking children to summarize a story in a book is one way to peak their interest in reading. Give the child or children some books, ask them to read it and when they are done, ask them to summarize the story. The summary can either be written or verbal. When this happens, children are able to spend time trying to understand a story rather than just reading the words.
The story of Jason and the Golden Fleece is etched into my mind because of this. My teacher gave all of us different books to read and once we were done, he asked us to summarize the story in a written form. I had to read the story several times to finally have the understanding I needed to summarize it.
I asked my nephews to verbally summarize the story they had just read the books I gave them. The one who was able to summarize it well was rewarded. In time, both of their summaries were very good and this meant that I had to reward them both.
Rewards are a great way of motivating children to read. Whenever children are rewarded for accomplishing a task it makes them feel good about themselves. Rewarding them when they are able to read and summarize a book or chapter acts a great incentive for them to read more.
When the original PlayStation came out, I asked my father to buy me one and he struck a deal with me. If I was able to read 30 books before the school term ended and I was able to summarize them well, then he would buy me the PlayStation. Every additional 10 books equalled getting one more video game title. I accepted the offer and before the school term was up, I had read 113 books including several of my dad’s novels. My dad was impressed with me and before long, I owned my very own PlayStation with 10 different video game titles.
Tried this one with my nephews as well and currently, as at the time I am writing this post they have both read more than 90 books and the term is just halfway in. I guess I would have to go take a loan to buy them the PlayStation 4 along with several numerous game titles.
Do you have any extra tips?
As a parent, you need to understand your child if you want to get the best out of them. Try not to compare them to others and also learn to be patient with them. Always try to fulfil your promises to them. If you know that you cannot fulfil your promise to them, then do not promise it in the first place. Nothing breaks the spirit of a child faster than unfulfilled promises. Sometimes books may not be the answer, in which case you can try out these techniques to improve reading skills with no books involved. Do you have any tips for teaching your children to love reading? let us know in the comments below.