8 Ways You Might Be Discouraging Your Child from Reading

how parents discourage reading

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We don’t intentionally discourage our children from reading. But sometimes we can make small yet frequent mistakes that deter our budding young readers over time.

Here are some common ways parents can discourage their child from reading, and what you can try to do instead.

1. Not providing reading material at home

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks.” — Dr. Seuss

A love of reading begins with great books – a lot of them! Make sure your house is stocked up with age-appropriate books and reading material, including comic books and kids magazines. Provide a variety of reading material around the house and in your child’s bedroom. Early readers can also benefit from having posters on the wall that include a lot of text (e.g. animal charts, nursery rhymes and songs). If your child owns a tablet device, look for reading apps and e-books that will give their other games a run for their money.

For long car trips and family holidays, always pack books and reading material.

Give your child their own bookshelves at home, and if they’ve finished all their books, you can always find more at the local library.

2. Using reading time as a bargaining chip…

Sure it may be tempting, but using reading time as a bargaining tool is something that parents should try to avoid. It’s never a good idea to associate reading with any other incentive than pure enjoyment or learning about new things. If your child is a reluctant reader, saying things like, ‘If you do your reading you can watch TV’ or, ‘Just ten minutes of reading and you can have dessert’ are not going to yield real long-term results.

Instead of bargaining, encourage your child to see the intrinsic rewards of reading by saying things like, ‘Wow, you finished your book today! Which was the best part?’ or, ‘I remember reading that book in school, and I still love it today!’ 

3. Or using it as a threat

“Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.” — Kate DiCamillo

The one thing that could be worse than bribing your child to read is using it as part of punishment. Have you ever heard yourself say something like, ‘You didn’t do your reading so you don’t get to watch TV’? We’ve almost all been there.

Using reading time as punishment can leave your child filled with dread at the very thought of it. Read more about the value of positive reinforcement.

4. Not letting them choose their own books

If your child is at school, chances are they have a set reading list, and there may not be very much you can do about it. So when it comes to reading books outside of school, it’s important to let your child choose the ones they really want.

Visit the library and let your child pick out the books they want to read. There’s nothing wrong with making suggestions and guiding your child’s decision – we all hope our children will love the same books we loved as children. But ultimately, if they’re reluctant about a book from the get-go, they’re not very likely to warm up to it anytime soon.

5. Being a non-reader yourself

Can’t remember the last time you picked up a book? Finding time to read can become a great challenge in our adult years, especially when raising a family. But if your child doesn’t see you or anybody else in the house enjoying a good book, eventually they’ll struggle to see the value in doing it for themselves. Let your child see you indulge in a good read now and then – children watch (and often copy) our every move.

6. Choosing books that are too easy or too hard

If your child finds a book too easy or too ‘babyish’, they’ll quickly grow bored with it. On the other hand, if the book is too challenging and contains too many words they don’t know, it’s likely to cause immense frustration, which can put them off reading altogether.

A good way to determine if a book is just right for your child is by using the Five Finger Rule. If the book has a few difficult words, try reading aloud together. There’s nothing wrong with exposing children to more complex language in context. But if you know the language and concepts will be too difficult for them to enjoy the story, set it aside for another time.

7. Over-correcting their mistakes

This one is tricky. While it’s important to show your child where they’ve gone wrong, being overly critical can be extremely discouraging.

Reading should be a fun and enjoyable experience. It’s important to prove this to your child. Forcing them to read and reread text until they have it perfect can be very discouraging to an emerging reader. Try to avoid interrupting while they are reading and wait for a natural pause to point out any mistakes if you need to. If you want to help your child work on their reading fluency, try texts that are fun to re-read over and over again, such as fun rhymes and poetry, which also give reluctant readers a great sense of accomplishment.

8. Forgetting to read with your child regularly

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” — Emilie Buchwald

Even if your child is old enough to read on their own, reading together can still have a lot of value. Take turns reading aloud and create positive reading memories together. Talk about the story, the characters and the pictures, and ask your child questions about how they feel or think about the book. Setting a regular reading time with your child is one of the best ways to set them up for a lifetime love of reading.

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8 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Attention When Reading

improve child focus

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?

3 Tips for Doing Homework

homework tips for kids

1. Set a regular homework time get your child into a daily routine so they know at what time they need to do their homework.  Find a time that suits your child. Make it a routine of them coming home, having some afternoon tea, and then getting straight into their homework. If your child does their homework at the same time every afternoon, they will soon become aware of what needs to happen when. A good idea is to set a timer for 10, 20 or 30 minutes (depending on the age of your child) so that when the timer rings, your child will know they can go if they have worked through that period.

2. Set a place to do homework – designate a quiet place free from distractions where your child can do their homework. Set a clearly defined space so they know when they sit down in this space, that it’s homework time and time to concentrate.

3. Give your child support with their homework, but don’t do it for them you don’t have to be an expert to help your child with their homework. Ask your child what they are learning, and if they are having difficulty, give them some assistance to get them on the right track – but don’t do it all for them. Homework is about developing independence. Teaching your child to tackle their homework on their own when they first start school will help them develop the confidence to work and solve problems independently. If your child is having difficulty with their homework, sometimes it can be beneficial for them to not receive help at home, but to bring their homework in the next day and receive help in class. This will allow their teacher to know how they are progressing and what they need help with.

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