Are You Ready to Give UP on Getting Your Child to Read? DON’T
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Are You Ready to Give UP on Getting Your Child to Read? DON’T

Getting Your Child to Read

Reading Challenges Can Be Overcome and it will be worth it.

‘Reading is a social activity…Between the ages of four and nine, your child will have to master some 100 phonics rules, learn to recognize 3,000 words with just a glance, and develop a  comfortable reading speed approaching 100 words a minute – say Educational Consultant and Author/Publisher Paul Kropp.

A tall order that you think especially when your little one appears to quite dislike the very idea of sitting still and reading.

Don’t despair. No child is born ‘knowing’ how to read nor does it come naturally to any kid. It is a cultivated art. As you begin to tweak your little one’s thinking and reasoning skills through various question and answer sessions, interactive games, and other methods, your child actually along with picking up listening and speaking skills will also be absorbing how to read as well. By the time it is time for school, your child will be familiar with among other things, the alphabets and numbers too which automatically lead to reading. In case your little one does show signs of being averse to reading- which is also natural-all you need to do is figure out why and turn it around.

Reasons, why your child could find ‘reading’ a challenge, may be quite simple really, like

  1. Find it boring
  2. It is an inactive activity
  3. A weak memory
  4. Has difficulty concentrating
  5. Reading the wrong books
  6. Considers it a chore
  7. Unable to keep up with peers
  8. Fear of failure/ridicule

Since reading is very important for not only the child’s intellectual development but also for its overall mental growth it is imperative that you make ‘reading’ an enjoyable adventure sooner than later. So for children who find reading a challenge-

1) Make reading fun – Teach them how to recognize symbols, letters and words through games and role play. Make word-lists of anything along with images – of animals, birds, flowers. Show them how to identify words and pictures and put them together with live examples- like a cow on the street with the spelling/image of a cow in a book or matching their own names. This automatically makes it less boring

2) Play word games that have an element of guesswork – How many ‘P’s does an apple have. Spot them on a signboard or a book. Simple crossword puzzles, spelling/guessing the right word too will help and are great fun. Children love challenges.This will have them hooked before you know it.

3) Surround yourself with books. Picture books, word books, encyclopedias, atlases, large colorful booklets – curiosity alone will lead them to want to find what each book contains.

4) Let reading be a part of your child’s everyday routine. Make time for a book or two to explore after dinner. It will help you bond and make the child look forward to some quiet book time fun with you.

5) Some children are naturally kinesthetically inclined.They are doers. So reading has to be made ‘physically’ interesting enough for them to acquire it. Act out the story/word or encourage them to act it out or even write/draw/scribble what they read or something they tell you. Again make it a fun thing and not a chore –like playing dumb charades.This also works for children who can’t sit still for long

6) Some kids could be auditory learners who depend on hearing and speaking as a main way of learning. So read out loud to them. Constantly and patiently. Video and tape recorders/audio books also help. When they begin to recognize and identify the written word through sound, it will make them, in turn, begin to start putting the letters together. Fluency will follow. Even otherwise reading aloud to children encourages them to do the same.

7)  A good memory helps support all other skills. So for a weak memory, a constant and continuous reading drill will help. Repetition/practice/reading aloud will motivate the child to learn how to figure out what alphabet goes with what and what follows what till it all begins to make sense. The more familiar the text, the more fluent and improved the child’s expression and comprehension.

8) Almost all children have some amount attention deficit. So reading has to be made exciting. Colorful word formations, text forms with pictures, rhymes/ stories in graphics/stimulating print help activate young minds into wondering or imagining or even hold the thought of what the end of what they read could be. Reading aloud will also egg them onto not only concentrate but also try and read more.

9) Audio books are a boon for struggling readers too. Good action/lively stories they listen to are likely to captivate their imagination and motivate them to try reading the same stories on their own later.

9) Don’t be impatient. Answer all their questions however frivolous. Nor should you keep nagging them to read what you think they should read. The freedom to choose the books they want to read will take the ‘dread’ out of reading.  Don’t compare them to their peers either. There is no worse put off than that. There is no one speed that fits all.

10) Praise them however slow. Encourage them to practice. Motivate them by rewarding them when they try. Tell them it doesn’t matter if they can’t keep up –that slow and steady always wins the race.

11) Some children get frustrated when they are unable to read or remember. There could be a more serious underlying issue like ‘Dyslexia’ which while not a disability is extremely tiresome for such children. They-bright in every other way – might get their words and letters mixed up or in reverse. In such cases, the professional evaluation will help set it right. It is not the fault of the child. It just means different teaching methods need to be used.That’s all.

It is an indisputable fact that children who are taught to read early will display a better all- round ability to excel in every field as they grow. So whatever difficulties- including dyslexia-   your child might have while reading, it is necessary that you as a parent help the little one to try and overcome them sooner than later. All it requires is a bit more of your time and love and yes an extra-large dollop of gentle patience.

Sreelata Menon

Armed with a Masters in History, Sreelata was an Assistant Editor with the erstwhile Onlooker and World Trade Magazines before teaching History to undergraduates and doing a stint in an advertising agency. Reinventing herself as a web content writer, she writes regular blogs on freelance writing, child development and current happenings for online and print publications. Now established as a children’s writer, her books include Guru Nanak and Indira Gandhi for Penguin-Puffin. She is also the author of ‘Freelance Writing for the Newbie Writer’.


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