I’m all for the half-term holiday being exactly that, a holiday. School can be tough and I truly believe a week off shouldn’t be about homework, projects, even reading. I know!! However, a Dad I met a couple of days ago asked me what to do with their child, who at reception age will kick and scream rather than open a book. Not at school, only at home. I didn’t really offer much help at the time, but since then I’ve had a think, and wanted to share a few ideas. So here goes…
1 – As you know, I’m all about making reading a fun experience. But it isn’t easy!! If the sight of a school book sends your child West, then leave it. It’s tough as I know you can feel pressurised to get through as many books as you can by the teacher, but having a word and explaining you read lots of other books with him/her is not a problem. So instead, choose a book that your child is interested in and work through it together. This doesn’t even mean reading the words, just look at the pictures to start off with, talk about what’s on the page and most important of all stay relaxed. If he/she can only sit still for 5 minutes at a time, that’s fine!
2 – The book you choose doesn’t have to be a reading book! The market is saturated with some really clever alternatives. You could go for a spotting book, a spot-the-difference book, a counting book, Lego book, a book connected to his favourite TV programme. Even a kids magazine. (The BBC ones are great.) Anything bright and cheerful and that you can do together.
3 – Pick your time. Don’t attempt to get them interested if they are tired, hungry, or busy doing something else that they are really into. Sitting down with a snack whilst looking at the book is not a bad idea, as a bit of distraction helps. I wouldn’t try it at bedtime either. That is your time to read to them instead.
4 – Use loads and loads of praise. Every time they show interest pile it on. You can’t be enthusiastic enough!! It will get less of an effort with more practice. You may even get to the point where they want to try and show you what they have learnt at school. If they do, drop everything and listen.
5 – Read yourself, in front of them. Have books around the house. Show them that books are something not to be scared off, and can be enjoyable! Have a look at my book box ideas at the top of this blog if you are unsure which books to have in the house.
Don’t forget, little ones learn to read at different ages, and at different stages. Just be supportive and keep calm. It will come, so don’t let any anxieties you might have affect them. Reading is such a lovely activity to enjoy together. If they see you getting something out of it, they will too.
I have lots of other tips, these are just simple ones you can try whilst trying to juggle everything else. Let me know if you want to hear anymore, or have any others you can share!