Tips to Keep Kids Reading
Parents may wonder how to keep kids reading during summer breaks so their skills stay fresh and they are prepared for the next school year. Tutoring is an excellent option, but there are plenty of ways to promote reading skills at home.
The most important thing you can do is consistently provide exposure to reading and language every single day. Integrating more reading into children’s daily lives will expand their vocabularies, help them develop a sense of sequence and patterns, and increase their attention spans. Keep the following tips in mind:
Think variety. Instead of chapter books or the fiction children usually gravitate toward, check out a variety of diverse books and magazines at the library. The exposure to multiple types of print and genres will stretch readers and offer options they may not have considered otherwise.
Make reading inviting. Set up cozy reading areas in different parts of your home (every room if possible!) so that kids are drawn to crack a book without being asked. Let them build forts equipped with books, flashlights and pillows for hours of escape. A huge pile of pillows makes the perfect nest to get lost in a story.
Be a matchmaker. Be sensitive to kids’ interests to match them up with books. If they are passionate about playing baseball in the summer, go to the library and explore titles about the subject. If there is a television show or movie they are especially moved by, find related books so they can explore further.
Bend the rules. Occasionally bend the rules at bedtime(maybe an extra 20 minutes) to encourage reading inbed. Make sure their reading material at night is not
scary or apt to give them bad dreams.
Bag the books. Have a tote full of books in the car or near the door so that there arealways books on hand to read for errands,appointments and times when kids maybe waiting.
Don’t worry about levels. Do not be overly concerned with the reading level of the material your child chooses over the summer. You want kids to fall in love with books, not be turned off because of limits. So don’t be concerned if your child turns to some selections you consider too juvenile.
Read aloud. Be willing to read aloud to your children even if a part of you feels they are way too old for it. They’re not! When reading aloud to older children you can stop and ask questions and check for understanding. Hearing language and new vocabulary and forming images as they listen counts and matters. Don’t limit reading aloud to bedtime either. You could make it an after-dinner or a breakfast ritual.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Get caught reading. Practice what you preach to reinforce it. Let your children see you reading novels, the paper, magazines, recipes and mail. Point out signs and billboards when you’re in the car and ask them questions to check for understanding.
Celebrate. Use your judgment. Your kids may not need any reward program in place to motivate them. If they do, instead of setting a huge goal (100 books read by end of summer!), think realistically and shorter term. Set an achievable weekly goal and a reasonable weekly reward.
Be prepared for occasional whining. There will be moments when kids just will not be in the mood to read. Have alternative language-building activities in mind for these times. Let them dictate a story and then read it back to them. Ask them to write 50 words that begin with “B.” Work on a crossword puzzle together. The idea is to stay immersed in words, letters and language every day.
All of these tips will help your child feel more confident about practicing newly acquired skills and more prepared for the school year. The added bonus is these ideas lend themselves to opportunities for high-quality connection with your child — which is never a waste of time. n
Michele Ranard is a freelance writer who has worked as an academic tutor for a decade. She has a husband, two sons and a master’s degree in counseling.