- 'My child refuses to read when I tell him/her to!'
- 'My child just doesn't enjoy reading!'
- 'I don't know how to get my child to read!'
These are three hugely common statements that parents make when it comes to encouraging their child rot read more. As a tutor and educator, I can't stress enough the importance of reading especially at primary level. Reading is crucial- fact.
So why are so many children reluctant to read?
There are a few reasons for this:
For some children, reading is deemed a chore- something that they're forced to do because adults tell them. Comparatively, some children struggle with reading and need that extra bit of care and attention so that they can improve their reading skills. Furthermore, some children are excellent readers but struggle to understand and comprehend the books they've read. The words go in one ear and out the other.
Solution #1: The Mixer Strategy
Make reading fun! Put some effort into combining reading based activities with hobbies that your child genuinely enjoys. For example, if your child loves to sing, could you create or find a reading activity that uses or incorporates music? If your child loves history, why not encourage them to read history-inspired books that interest them (The Horrible History series is a great place to start).
Solution #2: The Specificity Technique
Use incentives to encourage them to read more often. When you tell a child to read, don't just tell them 'to read!' What I mean by this is that saying, 'go and read' to a child doesn't communicate a clear goal for them. Instead of 'go and read' be specific! Replace the phrase, 'go and read' with something far more specific like: 'go and read the next thirty pages of Pig Heart Boy.' See how the second statement is far more effective because it tells the child exactly what to do. Be specific. Give your child crystal clear directions so that they know what to do. I call this the specificity technique- try it and apply it to every direction you give your child.
Solution #3: Channelling
So your child reads a book, you then ask them a few questions about the book and find that the expression on their face is one of bemusement. In other words, your child can read well but has absolutely no idea what they've read! Their comprehension skills are lacking and you have no idea what to do about it. What do you do? Simple. You follow this one simple but effective strategy- one that I've termed channelling. The gap in time between a child reading a story and answering questions on that story can seem quite a while for some children. The channelling technique simply involves asking the child questions during the course of their reading rather than after it. For instance, your child could read one page and then answer questions on that page, read another and answer questions, and so forth. By following this technique, your child is constantly remaining engaged with the text and is far more likely to understand, appreciate and remember what they learn.
Which technique did you find to be most useful? Try the above techniques and tell me in the comments below how they worked for you.