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 Daily Activities to Teach Your Child to Use Mathematical Language

number talk with toddler

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Parents usually spend a lot of time talking to their children about letters, sounds and words. This often comes naturally as we sit down to read a book together in the evenings, or point out to words when we’re out and about, such as on billboards and street signs.

But studies show that talking about numbers and using mathematical language with our toddlers is just as important. In fact, many studies suggest that it’s a key predictor of a child succeeding in mathematics when they start school.

Often, parents pay less attention to “number talk” with their children than they do with early literacy concepts. Interestingly, mothers were found to speak to boys about number concepts twice as often as they did with girls.

Parents are encouraged to talk to their toddlers about numbers from an early age, and on a regular basis. Here are eight ways to incorporate number talk into everyday activities to help your child develop an awareness of mathematical language and concepts.

1. Count every day

You can easily turn counting into a fun everyday activity, wherever you go. Count how many birds you spot on an afternoon walk. Or how many red cars you see waiting at the traffic lights. How many chairs are in the doctor’s waiting room, and how many magazines or books? Hold up your fingers when you count and say the numbers out loud. You can even keep a notebook and pen ready to keep a tally.  

2. Have fun solving puzzles

Board games and puzzles are a fun and challenging way to introduce your toddler to mathematical language. Family board games like Chinese Checkers, Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land are all great ways to build your toddler’s understanding of numbers. Every time you roll a dice, read the number out loud and count the squares as you move your playing piece across the board. Puzzles (e.g. wooden shape puzzles) can help toddlers build their shape recognition and understanding of spatial concepts. Encourage your toddler to name different shapes as they play, and tell you if a certain shape is “too big” or “too round” to fit.

3. Pretend play

There is a wealth of educational benefits derived from imaginative play. Your child may enjoy pretending to be a shop keeper, and ask you to purchase items from their “shop”. Or they may like to pretend to be a scientist or a wizard cooking up secret potions in their hidden laboratory. Wherever your child’s imagination takes them, there is sure to be an opportunity to incorporate mathematical language. You can create or buy props for your child, such as play money for shop tills, plastic fruit for pretend groceries, or a simple measuring cup for mixing potions. If they invite you to take part, encourage them to tell you how many fruits they are selling, whether they can give you three of each vegetable, or how much more liquid should go into their secret potion.

4. Sort objects

Encourage your child to observe similarities and differences between objects to classify and sort them into categories. For example, if you’re helping them to put their toys away, ask them to sort all their toys by categories such as “toy cars”, “stuffed animals” or “block shapes”.  You can also do this while tidying. Ask your child to collect objects that need to be put away and sort them into categories (e.g. “paper” or “plastic”). Ask them how many objects they have collected for each group, or to point to a group with a certain number of items. This may even be a good opportunity to use spatial language, such as “put the red cars next to the blue cars”, or “put the small cup inside of the big cup”.

5. Make use of the ruler, measuring tape, and measuring cup

Have fun with your child measuring objects around the house, and reading out or recording measurements. A fun bath time activity involves collecting differently sized jars, cups and containers to teach your child about ‘full’ and ‘empty’, and compare capacities. Talk about what’s happening as you play. For example, “My cup is full, no more water can fit in my cup”, or “Let’s pour water from my small cup to your big cup and see if it becomes full”.

6. Point out numbers wherever you go

Point out numbers on street signs or number plates when you’re sitting in traffic with your child. Point them out and ask them to identify the numbers, or read them out for them yourself. You can also ask your child to show the numbers with their fingers, and encourage them to do this in different ways. For example, showing the number five may involve holding up two fingers on one hand, and three on the other.

7. Online learning resources

Online learning has become a big part of modern day education in the past decade, and technological devices can offer a fun, interactive and valuable early learning tool for toddlers. Many online mathematics resources are designed to be highly engaging and easy to use for preschool-aged children, and introduce them to early learning concepts in a fun and play-based way. Mathseeds is designed to teach children aged 3-6 how to count, identify patterns and shapes, and understand basic problem solving concepts.

8. Be conscious of using “number talk” regularly

Try to solve problems using mathematics in front of your child to help them make connections between mathematics and everyday life. For example, when you’re cooking read aloud each step and measure the quantities accordingly for your child to see. Use numbers when you refer to time, dates, and temperatures. How many hours and minutes until dinner? How many weeks and days until school? Is the temperature going to be higher or lower this weekend?

For more fun mathematics ideas to do with your toddler, read 10 fun ways to build early numeracy skills here.

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5 Ways to Help Your Child Sound out Words

help child sound out words

Cracking the reading code takes practice and repetition. Decoding words, or sounding them out, is the ability to apply existing knowledge of letter-sound relationships to correctly pronounce printed words.

Many children develop the ability to decode words over time with regular reading practice. But children may also benefit from explicit instruction. Phonics instruction is an essential component of learning to read, and involves teaching your child how to decode words by correlating sounds with letters.  Here are five helpful ways you can help your child sound out words:

1. Explain the “how” of decoding words. When your child comes across a word they are unfamiliar with, show them how they can sound out the word themselves by breaking it up into smaller parts (e.g. /c/…/a/…/t/). Help your child identify the phonemes – the single units of sound that distinguish one word from another – in words (e.g. /b/…/ur/…/n/). There are 44 phonemes in the English language. Phonemes charts can be found online.

The English language also contains many irregular spelling rules which can make sounding out particular words confusing. For example the letter combination /ch/ in the words ‘chef’, ‘choir’ and ‘cheese’ have three different pronunciations. Take time to help your child learn the pronunciation of every new word along with its meaning, in order to help them identify ‘irregular’ words by sight.

2. Teach blending. Blending is a crucial step in becoming a fluent reader. Put simply, blending is the ability to smoothly combine individual sounds together in words. For example, an early reader may read out each individual sound in the word ‘fast’ like /f/…/a/…/s/…/t/, while smooth blending would be sounding the word out as /faasst/. Read some activities on how to teach your child blending here.

3. Write it down. When helping your child sound out words, consider the following:

  1. Say it slowly – stretch out words so that it’s easier to hear the sounds. Vowel sounds are usually the easiest to stretch out.
  2. Hold the sound – Starting with the first sound, hold it and stop.
  3. Find the letter – Help your child identify the letter whose sound matches the sound they have identified.
  4. Write it down – Write that letter down straight away, without waiting until the entire word has been sounded out. Help your child write a letter or letter combination for each sound as soon as the sound is identified.

Writing each sound as you go will help your child remember early sounds in a word by the time they figure our later sounds.

3. Play with rimes and onsets. A rime refers to the string of letters that follow an onset, which is the first phonological unit of any word. You can play with rimes and onsets by cutting out pieces of cards and writing a phoneme on each one, for example, b c f p r s m and h. Write the word at on a separate piece of paper. Ask your child to look at the rime at and decide if they have a phoneme that would correctly complete the word (e.g. b + at = bat).

4. Read aloud. When children hear words read aloud, they begin seeing how printed words are closely connected to spoken words. Reading aloud with your child helps them associate individual sounds with printed letters and letter combinations. Set aside regular reading time with your child and allow them to hear you read aloud slowly while watching your finger identify each sound. Programs like Reading Eggs include read aloud options with e-books for early readers, highlighting individual sounds as they are being read out.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that teaches children to read using phonics. Suitable for children ages 3-13, Reading Eggs includes hundreds of guided reading lessons and over 2000 e-books for children of all reading levels. Start your free two week trial today.

Teaching kids to apply their mathematics knowledge to real world situations

maths-homework

How many times have you explained a mathematics concept to your child, only to have them ask, “When am I ever going to need this?” Here’s how you can help them apply their new skills to real world situations.

We all love to learn, but usually we need to understand how the knowledge we’re about to learn will be useful to us. It’s no different for young children – once they realise how the knowledge they’re learning can be applied to real situations they see in the world, they’ll become more eager to listen, ask questions, and look out for more opportunities to show you how well they’ve grasped the key concepts.

Here are a handful of ways you can do this at home:

1. Implement school lessons at home

For example, if your child is learning about different temperatures at school, ask them to help you check the temperature at home and outside. You can start off by asking them if they think it’s hot, cold or warm, and to predict the temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Then, you can consult the thermometer together to see how close your predictions were.

2. Create a simple budget

Sit down with your child and plan a household budget for the month. Subtract regular expenses such as rent, bills and car payments, and encourage your child to try and come up with as much money as possible to remain leftover after expenses.

3. Go shopping together

Plan a family shopping day and prepare a shopping list together. Ask your child to help you pick out items from the list and cross them off as you go. Ask them to stay within a set budget and to estimate the amount of the overall purchase while shopping. This activity helps them incorporate several mathematics skills at once, such as budgeting, subtraction, addition and estimation.

4. Cook together

Following a recipe is a great (and delicious!) way to practice fractions and measurements. Show your child different measuring tools in the kitchen and talk about the concept of fractions, such as explaining how two ½ cups make one whole cup. After all the ingredients are assembled – guess how many servings it will produce.

5. Host fun competitions

How many cookies are in the cookie jar? How many minutes will it take to wash up all the dishes? What is the average weight of this week’s shopping bags? Almost everything can be turned into a fun mathematics game – and by keeping up the fun, the learning is sure to come!

Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of interactive lessons and enjoy collecting exciting rewards, watching colourful animations and enjoying great songs throughout the program.

Visit www.readingeggs.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and Reading Eggs and let your child experience the fun way of learning early mathematics.

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.

Visit www.readingeggs.com to see how your child can learn how to read while having fun with Reading Eggs!