Reading is one of the first things your child learns as part of a formal education. Some children take to it with very little effort. For others, it becomes a constant struggle complete with frustrating meltdowns. But how can you help your child become a great reader in the most stress-free way possible?
It’s not a secret
Let me start off by apologising. It’s actually not a secret. You already know how to turn your child into a great reader. But something I like to call ‘Milestone Pressure’ has convinced you that you need a super-secret formula to help your kids read.
‘Milestone Pressure’ is the stress we feel to get our kids to do something by a certain time. It starts as soon as they’re born…
- Can he hold his head up yet?
- She’s a little small according to this graph…
- Is he crawling?
- Can she sleep through the night?
- He should be able to count to 5 by now…
- Can she read these sight words?
You get the picture. It’s STRESSFUL. So, let’s throw all that pressure away and remind you of that special secret you’ve forgotten:
If your child enjoys reading, they will grow up to be a great reader.
Shocked? Didn’t think so. You already knew this.
I can hear you screaming at the screen – But how do I get my child to enjoy reading??
Don’t worry. I got you.
Throw the rulebook away
That’s right. All the sight words, the flash cards, the regimented scripts guiding your child through phonic sounds – all of it!
Nothing sucks the fun out of something more than a bunch of rules. Let me tell you, if your child loves to read, they will naturally want to improve. You don’t need to force it on them.
Some kids enjoy all the reading resources, and that’s great! But let THEM ask YOU to help them.
I stopped pushing my daughter through the Read Write Inc programme (which she claimed was ‘super boring’ and threw herself on the floor everytime I got her stuff out) and we did our own thing. Turns out she LOVED the Kit and Sam characters from the Twinkl Phonics programme.
Now, she brings her reading folder to me and asks, “Can we do more reading and writing?”
It’s the magic words every parent wants to hear!
So, throw everything you currently push your child to do in a box. Keep out ONLY the things they enjoy and do something reading-related AND enjoyable every day.
I give it one week before your child starts enjoying reading again.
Process vs results
The key to helping your child become a great reader is to focus on the fun you have learning. Don’t think about the results. When we constantly chase results, they won’t come. Get it out of your head that if your child doesn’t blend words in the next few weeks, then she’ll never read. She will read. She’ll get there if you don’t push it. “The watched pot never boils” and all that.
Focus on the process of learning to read. Make it fun, enjoyable, and memorable.
Now, you know best what is fun for your child, but here are some ideas to get you started!
- Turn reading time into a tea party! Get out snacks, drinks, even a little picnic and have all your reading materials on the floor. Pick up whichever resource your child wants to use at the time.
- Speaking of picnics, take your reading outside! Go to the park (once the Covid Craziness calms down, of course) or just sit in your garden and enjoy the breeze while you read.
- If your child is just learning their letters and sounds, playdough mats are great for active little learners.
- Have a DEAR day! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check out this amazing post by Reading Reimagined.
- Let your child lead. Let them pick up whichever resource they want to use at that moment – it’s all learning, and your child will be more inclined to join in when they feel like they’ve chosen it.
- Sticking with your child’s choices, if they say they want to try reading a book, but you think it’s too hard for them, DON’T TELL THEM THAT. Let your child have a go at reading anything they desire. Never say no. Offer help if they need it, encourage them when they find it hard, but let them try.
- Find activities associated with the book you’re reading. Whether that’s colouring pages, maths problems with the characters, or even coming up with your own.
- Have a reading challenge! Check out the Our Daily Wonders Reading Challenge for Reluctant Readers.
Share the fun!
Let’s help each other out! Drop your ideas in the comments. How do you make learning to read super fun for your child?