Years of Reading
We all know that reading is key to improve any language skills. By reading, we are able to not only accumulate knowledge from the context of the material and broaden our vocabulary, but will be able to see the applications of grammar and also on a deeper level learn how sentences and the building up of ideas in a book or article are articulated and structured. With that, we as parents or educators feel obligated to nurture good reading habits among children. Does that mean rushing to the library and bookstores to stock up on books for dear life? Children being children, many shun the idea of reading and rather play video games or watch Netflix. At the end of the day you do not want to be left with piles of untouched books and a child who would never know the joy of reading. Don’t fret, let us walk through the stages of a child’s life and how you could encourage them to read more.
Age 0 – 3
In general, children at this age are less rebellious and would take in any information you provide them with. This is the best time to read interesting stories to your child every day, as to build their interest and excitement towards books.
Age 4 – 6
Parent: “Here, I got you this book. Make sure you finish reading it in two weeks.”
Child: Takes the book, reads the first paragraph, closes the book
The next day, child thinks to herself: I love my pet dog, let me draw it in this book Mom got me. Scribbles. The child then forgets about the book.
Two weeks later
Parent: “Did you finish reading the book?”
Parent: “Where did you stop? Show it to me.”
Child passes the book with scribbles and stickers on it to her Mom.
The habit of reading does not come easily, not even to us adults. One way to encourage children to read more is by utilizing the reward system in the brain, by rewarding small trinkets and treats whenever your child completes a chapter and perhaps a treat to his/her favourite restaurant after he/she completes a book. This provides positive reinforcements whenever your child reads and they will be more likely to keep up with reading on a regular basis.
Age 7 – 12
Mix things up! Expose your child to different types of reading materials and genres from horror stories, poetries to plays. Another method is to provide a pen and a journal and encourage your child to write their hearts out about anything, but ensure they have their own privacy and you should not read their works without their permission. By writing, your child will likely to correct themselves along the way as they write and read more. It is also very crucial to find a teacher suitable for your child, because not all students and teachers are the same, you just need to find the right one. This will ensure that your child will enjoy learning from the teacher as well as follow the instructions given to complete their reading materials, homework, etc. resulting in improved language skills.
Age 13 – 18
It’s Their Choice! Just because you know what is best for them does not mean that they will find joy in it. Bring your teen to the bookstore and pick out a book they enjoy. Let them start from comic books and slowly build up to a novel, if that is what they want. Try not to discourage them even if they choose a picture book instead of an autobiography. Furthermore, leading by example; pick up a book yourself when you bring your child to the bookstore. Make reading time a family time, and maybe start a reading challenge with your family – “How many books can you read
in a month?”. Last but not least, Relax and Have Fun!
Start today, it is never too late to pick up a book. Once your child has found the interest in reading, it will be a smooth sailing ride.