Sitting down to read a book requires a great deal of focus. This can be a challenge for restless or reluctant young readers who struggle to pay attention while reading or being read aloud to.
Focusing on reading a book is something that even adults struggle to do. Low concentration and attention levels are a common issue for many young children, and can affect the way they learn and retain new information at school.
If your child struggles with staying focused while reading, here are eight helpful ways you can help them improve:
1. Break up their reading time. Your child may feel more motivated to start reading if they know they won’t be expected to sit for long periods of time. Encourage your child to take regular reading breaks every 15-20 minutes. Make it fun by having them stop, put down their book, and do ten star jumps or run on the spot.
2. Observe optimal times of the day. A child’s level of focus and alertness can change dramatically over the course of a day. Observe which time of the day your child is most ready and prepared to sit down and focus on reading a book. It could be early in the morning, in the middle of the day, or just before sitting down for dinner.
3. Create a distraction-free zone. Your child should have a comfortable and quiet place to read. Create a reading environment that is free from distractions like toys, the computer or the television.
4. Get creative. Your child may struggle to read the first page of a book, but have no problems spending 30 minutes building pictures with wooden craft sticks. A child’s level of focus depends on how interested they are in the activity. Get creative and turn the reading experience into a fun hands-on activity. You can role-play scenes from a book as you read aloud together, or have your child shape the letters of different words using craft sticks or play dough.
5. Observe your child’s interest. What has your child been talking about recently? They may have taken up an interest in dinosaurs, trucks, witches or horses. Whatever your child is fascinated by, find a book you know they will love.
6. Encourage physical activity. Educational experts have long made the link between physical activity and improved concentration levels. Before your child sits down to read, encourage them to engage in an outdoor game or a fun dance routine to help “wake up” their mind.
7. Provide fun instructions. Create excitement about reading by singing your instructions or using a piece of music or a fun sound to prompt reading time. Use a visual reminder that reading time is happening by displaying a poster on the wall or giving your child a ‘Reading Bear’ which they can sit with, hold on their lap, or read aloud to during reading time.
8. Encourage focusing techniques. Meditation is a great way to help your child focus before sitting down to read. Begin with short sessions of a minute or two and ask your child to focus on a particular object in the room or in their mind. When they get distracted while reading, encourage them to take a moment to refocus on the same object to push out any distracting thoughts.
Do you have any other special techniques or tips to help your child to stay focused while reading?