Top tips to encourage children to read
Children who read tend to be happier, calmer and find it easier to learn. Let’s look at why this is the case and what we can do to turn our little ones into bookworms!
Nearly all young children love books, especially bedtime stories. It’s very common that as they grow into older children, they begin to distance themselves from reading. This is a real shame as reading is one of the best ways for children to keep developing and learning. Kids sometimes feel that they are being forced to read which generally has the opposite effect than desired.
THE BENEFITS OF READING
Reading is a skill that will support your child throughout their entire life and continuously open their mind. It all starts with creating positive and memorable experiences around reading from a young age and maintaining that for their whole childhood. Let’s look at its benefits.
Nearly all school subjects are learned through reading. The easier your child finds this, the easier they’ll be able to absorb the material and master the topic. Studies have shown that children with a strong reading level at a young age are far more likely to achieve good grades and graduate from school, whereas those who have a below average reading level may not do so well in exams and some may not even graduate.
A less discussed benefit of reading is the awareness that it can provide your child. Reading a range of stories about different characters and scenarios will encourage them to think about all of these topics. It will help to develop their emotional intelligence as they learn more about how people interact with each other in healthy and unhealthy ways.
There is an almost endless amount of knowledge available in the world and if your child is comfortable reading, they have access to this. They’ll be able to explore concepts, ideas and passions, feeding their curiosity about the world.
Also, reading is a brilliant way for your child to expand their vocabulary. Having a broader vocabulary has been shown to promote deeper connections with other people and enable your child to feel more comfortable holding their own in social situations.
Reading has a profound effect on the mental health of your child, especially when compared to the effect of social media and screen time in general. Reading is a very gentle and mindful activity. When your child reads, they are intentionally slowing down the world around them as they focus their attention on their book. Even if the story is very exciting, they’ll be mostly sitting still and physically at ease. As a result, habitual readers tend to be much calmer and happier individuals.
They have a built in ‘slow’ time which can reduce stress and lower their heart rate. Whereas excessive screen time is known to unsettle children and while they seem occupied and are sitting still in front of the screen, it certainly doesn’t help them to relax.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE A LOVE OF READING
Here are a few tips on fostering a love of reading in your child:
Reading with your child
When a parent reads to their child regularly, it forms a strong bond and starts a positive association with reading. To maintain this level of positivity, be sure to make it clear that reading time is about fun and less focused on learning. Reading should be an entertaining activity that sparks the imagination of your little one. This excitement will show them how great reading can be and keep them engaged and interested. Kids who have fun while reading are far more likely to keep it up.
Bring the book to life
One of the best ways to get your child on board with reading is to bring the book to life. As you’re reading together, feel free to act out some of the scenes and put on voices for different characters. This can be a silly, fun and light-hearted activity.
As the story progresses, take breaks to chat with your little one about how the story is developing. Ask them what they think is going to happen, how they feel about what has already happened and why they think the characters are acting as they are. Offer your opinion on these questions too and have a discussion with your child about the story in general.
This approach adds layers of depth that enriches the experience for children. It also shows them that it’s a good thing to stop and think while you’re reading. It will teach them to consider the material and develop opinions on it. This is an invaluable skill that they’ll be able to use in their education and beyond.
Make it a habit
As with most things, the best way to make sure that your little one reads regularly is to help them to develop a reading habit. Fifteen minutes or so before bedtime works well for most parents as it simply becomes part of the bedtime routine. Don’t be worried if they aren’t overly into it at first. It will take some time and consistency, and eventually they’ll adapt. Furthermore, the better they get at reading, the more they’ll enjoy it and the more likely the habit is to stick.
PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
Whether we like it or not, children will often mirror our behaviour. So if we want our children to read regularly, then we should do the same. If they see us reading in the evening, they’re more likely to. If we’re asking them to read but they never see us reading, they may even question this. So if your child is at the stage where they’re reading independently, consider picking up a book and reading alongside them. This is a sign of encouragement and will also show them that they’re not missing out on anything else while they’re reading.
Being a capable reader is almost like a superpower these days. Children who read perform better in school across the board and find various aspects of life less challenging. So get started and know that you’re giving them a real helping hand while introducing them into the wonderful world of books!