Reading, as the old slogan goes, is fundamental. Not just for children but for adults, as well. Yet despite decades of stressing the importance of both adult and child literacy, some troubling statistics remain. A 2013 report from the National Center for Education Statistics found the U.S. ranked lower in literacy rates for individuals born after 1980 than 15 out of the 22 participating countries. In an increasingly digital world, reading isn’t just fundamental to literacy. It’s fundamental to critical thinking. And in order to prepare your child for success, they need to develop both skills early on in order to meet their full potential. But it’s not always easy to motivate a child to read.
A 2013 survey from the UK Center for Longitudinal Studies found a strong link between reading for pleasure at an early age and significant progress in vocabulary, spelling and math skills—sometimes even four times greater than having a parent with a post-secondary degree. But a book can’t always compete with a video game. Even attempting to pry your kids away from the TV can sometimes seem as challenging as teaching them advanced calculus. And given the amount of distractions available to most people, is it any wonder that the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 since 2000?
Fortunately, there are ways you can motivate your child to read which can be both innovative and simple. Ways which are both fun and challenging. Here are 10 simple ways you can start early on to encourage your child to read more at home.
Literacy Depends On Language
There’s a mistake many parents make by speaking “baby talk”—even when it’s no longer age appropriate. And while it may seem like a harmless and natural act, it’s important to remember that children learn chiefly by mimicking the world around them. The next time you speak to your child, don’t be afraid to use words which might seem too advanced for them. They’ll ask, and you’ll clarify – expanding their knowledge and vocabulary in return.
The Advantage Of The Physical Format
A 2014 survey led from the University of Nevada-Reno found home library size had a substantial effect on academic attainment; so much so that children from book rich families were found 19 percent more likely to finish college, regardless of economic background. While e-readers are unquestionably convenient, physical books remain a tangible reminder of the value of reading. You don’t necessarily have to own a warehouse full of textbooks and novels to make an impact on a child. Just a well stocked bookshelf or two, with age-appropriate titles available for them to read at their own leisure.
Read, Read, And Repeat
That means daily. But exposing children to reading doesn’t just end with reading them their favorite fairy tales at night. It also means setting an example. It might seem tempting to lounge in front of the TV with them after work. But the simple act of reading a newspaper or magazine in your spare time will make a significant impression on motivating your child to read more. After all, what child doesn’t want to be just like their parents when they grow up?
Talking Can Be Just As Important
Depending on their age, your child will likely be looking to you for explanations and your thoughts. After all, you’re there to help them learn and expand their horizons. But you have just as much (if not more so) to learn from your child’s impressions. Don’t just read to them. Help them absorb it. Talk about their favorite stories. What did they like about it? What did you like about it? Children are just as much catalysts as they are curious. You’ll find that discussing a story with your child will often set off a whole series of questions that you would have never considered before.
Create A Designated Reading Space
Many parents tend to rely on the children’s section of their public libraries when encouraging their children to read. After all, not only are there rows of books available to choose from, there’s frequently activities and story time to keep them motivated. But why rely on a public library when you can create your own designated reading space at home? Make certain there’s a corner of a living room that you can keep some of their favorite books, activities and educational toys. This sets the impression that reading time is a special time your child can look forward to. After a while, you’ll have to practically drag them out of their reading space!
Reading Doesn’t Have To Be Confined To Books
Especially at an early age. The next time you’re at a restaurant, point out their favorite item on the menu. Ask them to repeat it. Even if they’re not yet able to read, linking words with activities can go a long way in forming positive associations with language and reading. You’d be surprised how this simple act can be extended to other activities (playing make believe, for example.) And you’d be surprised how this simple act can set the foundation for a love of reading that will last throughout their lives.
Their Reading Material—Their Choice
You might be sick of reading the same Dr. Seuss book night after night to your children. But it’s not only a question of what they like. It’s a question of what they’re familiar with. Repetition is a cornerstone of learning. The more your child is familiar with subject matter, the more they can assimilate it. As they grow older, their preferences will grow more diverse. Don’t be surprised if your 6 year old wants to read a Harry Potter novel all by herself. They may get frustrated after the first page or two, but allow them to try. It will not only teach them the value of knowing their own limitations, it will spark their desire to surpass them as well.
Don’t Discourage Technology
Depending on their age, there’s a very good chance your child is already using e-readers and computers in school. If not, there’s an even stronger chance they will be in a few years. While nothing can replace the physical value of the printed word, it’s a good idea to prepare your child early by allowing them to use an e-reader at home. By allowing the diversity of media available to a child ensures that they’ll never get bored when it comes to reading!
But Don’t Allow It To Be Their Only Option
The problem with relying on digital media to motivate your child in reading more is its association with other electronic distractions. As a result, you may find that while they’re reading more, they’re actually absorbing and digesting less (remember what we said earlier about decreased attention spans.) There’s also a very real and very tangible comfort in associating reading with the printed word. Don’t rely on e-readers; simply suggest them as one potential resource they can read with.
Pay Attention To What They’re Reading
Not just to ensure they’re subject matter is age appropriate, but as an act of bonding with your child. Remember, your input makes a lasting impact on a child. If they’re struggling and getting frustrated with words and material, encourage them to persist. Explain with examples and associations your child can understand. Praise their accomplishments. Take an active interest in what they’re reading—even and especially outside of school.
Are you looking for a learning center that is committed as much to your family as they are to your child? At Cornerstone, we don’t just educate. We build character and bonds, nurtured by faith. To find out more or to schedule a tour, call us at (901) 260-5779 or visit https://learnatcornerstone.com/