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Thoughts About Reading

Is Reading with Your Child Stressful?

Reading with your child can either be one of the best moments of your day or one of the most stressful. Here are 5 tips on making reading time one of the best parts of your day with your child.

Tip #1 Mindset

As much as we sometimes don't like it as parents, we set the tone for the pace, vibe, and attitudes that take place in our homes. This is very evident when a toddler says something to someone else that you have repeatedly said to him or her. This can be a good or bad thing, right? This happens because those little eyes and ears are always watching us and picking up on what we say and do. This holds true for older kids as well, especially when it comes to attitude. If you are stressed about getting those reading minutes in for homework or find yourself complaining about having to sign a reading log (which I don't like using, by the way), guess what? Your child is going to echo that in some way in his/her attitude about reading/homework. Our goal for young readers is to learn to love reading and grow into mature readers who read not only for assignments but for fun as well. Your positive attitude even when you don't feel positive, goes a long way in your child's development and success as a reader.

Tip #2 Timing and Setting

Where and when you read with your child plays a big part in whether the experience is enjoyable or not. I know life is busy! I get it for sure. However, reading time is just like any other priority in our lives that we have to carve out a time for. Set a timer on your phone if needed. If you will be busy at that time, make sure to have someone else fill in for you or do it at a different time. Once we as parents get into the habit of putting reading off in the name of being too busy, it is very hard to get ourselves and our child back into a reading routine. Remember, you are helping to set the tone for a love of reading.

Along with timing and consistency, where your child reads is equally important. I want to encourage you to have a favorite reading spot or two for you and your child to read together. Whether it be the couch, a rocking chair, outside in the yard, or in bed before turning out the lights. Find a nice relaxing place to read with your child. This will establish reading as a calm and enjoyable time that your child gets to spend with you. Again, it's all about setting the tone for a love of reading. Also, know that it's okay to set a timer if you have other things you have to do around the house or bedtime is right after your reading time. Just like anything else, quality over quantity is what you're aiming for.

Tip #3 Routine

Boy do I wish I would have learned about routines when I was a child. I may have saved myself a lot of hard lessons as an adult if I did. When we establish routines for before school and after school, two things happen. The first is that routine tasks become tasks that run on autopilot and help to make our days run more smoothly. This means less yelling, less complaining, and less forgetting or losing things. Secondly, routines turn into habits. Having a set routine before and after school for your child to follow helps form healthy habits in time management, responsibility, and independence that will carry him/her through school and into adulthood. Having a non negotiable reading time as part of your child's daily routine makes it become just a normal part of the day that he or she knows will happen. Children like consistency and structure even when it has to do with school related things.

Tip #4 Have Fun with Reading

Routines are great, but sometimes when we have to do the same thing day in and day, we can get a little bored and discontent. Our kids are no different. If reading time has become a little stagnant and stale, don't be afraid to do some simple things to jazz it up a little. Here are just a few ideas to help with the reading blues and bring a little fun back into your child's reading time.

  1. Record your child reading, play it back, and listen to it together (great for fluency).

  2. Have a reading buddy join in on the fun. Siblings, stuffed animals, and family pets make great reading buddies.

  3. Take turns reading with your child.

  4. Facetime/Zoom with Grandma and read with her.

  5. Let your child decorate his/her reading log (with your teacher's approval of course).

  6. List fun actions on little pieces of paper and put in a small container. Draw out one of the pieces of paper after your reading time to do with your child (simple quick things like a dance move, tickle time, draw on each other's back, etc.).

  7. Let your child use little toys/trinkets to track the words when he/she reads. Little items like finger flashlights, witch fingers, pretzel sticks (eating one after each page is a must), and other dollar store/spot finds work great.

  8. Give your child M&M's or other small candy pieces to place over weekly sight words when reading (again, eating after every page is a must).

  9. Read with a flashlight in the dark.

  10. Make a fort or set up a tent and read in there.

Using these small, fun activities can really do a lot to reignite the excitement for reading time. Don't use them every time, but using them here and there can really help. Some added reading fun could be just what your little reader needs.

Tip #5 You've Got This!

I bet when you really think about it, you are doing better than you think. Many parents are nervous about how to ask questions for comprehension, how to correct reading mistakes, and other "teacher" type things. The truth is, just listening to your child read and you reading to your child is enough. Asking questions and sitting patiently while your child decodes unfamiliar words is wonderful, but the most important thing is that you are intentionally present with your child without any distractions (i.e. phone or laptop). Just you, your child, and a book is all that is needed.

By remembering these five reading tips, you can turn a stressful reading time into something that you and your child both enjoy and look forward to.

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