As an adult, you know the joys of reading a great book from start to finish without even putting it down. And don’t you want your children to experience that same joy, that same connection with books that you feel and love and want more of for yourself?
Of course! But the trick is knowing how to teach children early-on that reading isn’t just a necessity to get them through school – it’s your responsibility to teach your kids that reading is fun and something that they should want to do, not have to do. So how do you accomplish this?
It’s not too terribly difficult to teach a child the ins and outs of reading – we all know the tricks at this point. So what are those “extra” little ways to get kids to enjoy the act of reading? Start with these few simple tricks.
Take Your Child to the Library
Maybe you already bring your child to the library to check out books for school, but what about on a Saturday or Sunday, or on a half day or entire day off from school? Would you rather let them sit in front of the television all day or get in some quality reading?
Make it a point to take your child to the library at least once a week that’s not related to school. Take them down the aisles with all of the fun children’s books, and stop and read a few of the books to them. We know that reading a book to a child using expressive voices and big gestures will keep them engaged – so do that.
But the goal here is to teach your kids that going to the library is fun. Act out some of the books that you’re reading to them instead of just reading them. They’ll get excited to go to the library before you know it, and hopefully that’s an enthusiasm that won’t ever fade if they experience it early enough in their lives.
Play Alphabet Games
Teaching kids the alphabet can be kind of a fun challenge, but again, your goal here is to encourage kids to see reading and learning how to read as being fun. So make learning the alphabet a game that your kids will want to play all the time.
For example, each letter of the alphabet corresponds to a certain object in the house, or in the refrigerator if you’d like to make this easy (although make sure you have enough groceries to cover the letters you’re going to be calling!). All you do is sound out a letter, so instead of saying the letter “A,” make the sound “aaaa” as in “apple.” Your child then has to pull something out of the fridge that begins with that sound.
If they pull an apple, they get a small prize or treat. Rewarding correct actions will make your kids want to keep playing. If they get it wrong, make the sound again and give them a second chance. If they miss a second time, skip it for now and come back to it later.
There are all kinds of possibilities for games involving the alphabet – all it takes is a little bit of imagination to come up with something fun.
This idea might not work for some kids, but depending on how you go about it, it can actually be quite fun for everyone involved.
Have your child gather up a group of their favorite dolls or stuffed animals and sit them all on the floor facing in the same direction. You sit down on the floor next to the toys. Your child is the “teacher.” They’ll love the attention and the fact that all of the “students” in the “classroom” will have to listen to them.
Set up a whiteboard before “class” begins for your child with a few different words and letters written on it. Let your child “quiz” the class and determine if the answer is right or wrong. You will of course have to step in here or there, but for the most part, you’ll be able to teach your child about reading and spelling while they are teaching you and their toys.
You can even create worksheets and little mini quizzes for your child and their toys, if they’re interested in that sort of thing. Fill out the quizzes for your child’s toys and let your child “grade” them. It’s a fun, interactive way to get them into reading and spelling, especially at the young age where kids still enjoy going to school! As long as you make it fun, they’ll be receptive.
Set A Good Example
The more you yourself read, the more your child will want to read. Set aside some time every week, or preferably even every night, to sit down in a quiet room with a good book. Let your child choose a book, as well, and explain to them that it’s “quiet reading” time – meaning it’s time to read to yourself instead of out loud. And explain that the room you’re in is for quiet reading only until such and such time, and if your child wants to come in the room with you, they have to be reading, too.
Chances are, even if your child can’t yet read on his or her own, they will want to sit and look at picture books just to be in the same room as you. They don’t want to be excluded, and that’s certainly not the goal here. Explain to them that even if they try to read, they are still welcome in the quiet reading room with you.
You’ll be setting a good example for your child of how reading can be a fun and relaxing activity, and your child will take notice. You’ll also be exposing them to books individually, which is obviously an important skill to have – to be able to read to yourself. It’s a win-win, plus you’ll get to spend some quality time with your child, too!
About the Author
Valerie Spencer is a freelance writer and total book worm. She loves to read and even takes reading and English classes in her free time to expand her knowledge.