If I had to choose one action for every child which would improve their chances of doing well at school and at life, it would be this: read, for the love of it.
Read reguarly. Read widely. Read for fun.
There are an abundance of 'dead spaces' in our days. Fill these spaces with reading. Read in the car, while you're waiting for your sister to get ready for school, when your dad drags you to the supermarket, your mum says no more screen time, you're grounded, you're bored, you're on the toilet, it's raining, you can't sleep. Fill all these spaces with reading.
Always, read before bed.
Read books. Read graphic novels. Read Guiness Book of World Records. Read magazines. Read blogs. Just read.
There are many benefits of reading regularly, which I'll come back to another time. The bottom line is this: strong readers do better.
The authors of an OECD In Focus report (2011) found that 15 year old students who read for enjoyment every day performed higher in PISA (academic) testing, were more effective learners and were more likely to perform better at school. On average, students who read every day for fun scored the equivalent of 1.5 years higher than students who didn't.
The more kids read during childhood, the better their literacy skills in adulthood.
So how can parents encourage their children to read?
Some children take to books and reading like ducks to water and all parents need to do is provide access to reading materials. Other children don't engage in the same way and need a lot more prompting, guidance and encouragement.
Here are a few tips to encourage your child to read regularly, for enjoyment:
- Introduce story telling from a very young age and make it fun. Stories can be told in lots of different ways. Good quality films are stories. Audio books are useful if you have your hands full with other things, like younger children or driving a car. Make up a story. Think of a story you've read and re-tell it to your child. The aim is to draw them in to the suspense, satisfaction and sheer joy of a good yarn. Encourage them to tell their own stories.
- Be guided by your child's natural interests and don't worry too much about whether the reading materials they like are intellectual enough for their age. That will come later. The first step is to hook your child on to reading. If your child doesn't engage with a book, don't push it. Find another.
- Librarians are gold. They are qualified professionals who spend their time ensconced in books and are able to suggest stories for your child. Not to mention, their advice and the books they lend you are free!
- Just because your child can read independently and well, doesn't necessarily mean it's time to stop reading to them. Reading books aloud to older children gives them the opportunity to engage in more complex stories, with mature themes and meaningful character development.
- Boys need to see their dads reading regularly. Take time out of your day and stretch out with a good book. Not only will you model reading behaviours to your child, you'll probably feel more relaxed too. Win win!
Contact us for more information about encouraging your child to read for fun.