As a teacher, and now as a tutor, I am often asked how a child can improve with their reading, writing, spelling or grammar. There is always 1 simple answer to that. Read. Yup, you read that right, my simple answer is to read. In my opinion, being a reader will teach you more about all these things than the best tutor or teacher can. However, some children just do not enjoy reading. Why not and what do we do to encourage them?
So, your child gets reading homework and they hate it right? It is a stress and you dread it. But why might they feel that way? I would suggest the problem is actually the books themselves. Rarely, children get to pick their reading books. This instantly can decrease enthusiasm for reading. Furthermore, have you had a good look at most reading schemes within schools? They often are not that interesting! Would you enjoy being forced to read these books? Can you blame your child for not wanting to read it?
What can you do? I always tell parents that homework should not be a stress. Children in the middle to upper primary years tend to be competent technical readers. They have learned the skills to do this. So, is it important that they read every word themselves? I don’t think it is. It is however important that they keep pace with the book, so they can complete work set by the teacher both in and out of school. So, can you take turns reading paragraphs or pages? Could it be their bedtime story? Can they break the set pages down and attempt smaller chunks over several subsequent nights?
But stop a wee moment, whilst I might be saying it is ok not to read every word in their school book I am not saying do not read. Reading is essential for children, but it must be something they enjoy. There are many ways to get children to read without it being a book. Do they like to cook or bake, why don’t they find the recipe and lead the way? What about gaming? So many games have a lot of words and they do not even realise they are reading! What about comics or magazines? Reading really isn’t just books. Think how often you read without it being a book, this blog for a start, Facebook, that text you just received, the care instructions on your new jumper or even the address on an envelope to make sure it is yours before you open it. Words really are everywhere!
But if you really want to go the book route I would suggest you go to your local library, let them explore a huge range of genres for free! From comics to magazine, novels and graphic novels, you’ll find them in there. There are even audio books you can enjoy in the car. If they enjoy that you can then suggest books by the same author.
So in short, I do not care what a child reads, merely that they read.