Start an Enjoyable Habit: 5 Tips for Getting Your Primary School Child to Read
Every child is different. Some think reading is fun, and others need some encouragement. Very few hate reading unless they are forced to read texts that are either too hard or too boring. When a book is too hard for a child to understand, he or she will often become stressed and ‘shut-down.’ When this scenario occurs regularly, children associate reading with failure and try to avoid participating. Boredom can also cause a form of ‘shut-down’ because the child does not find the activity stimulating.
It is much easier to short circuit shut down before it begins to happen. The following strategies will help you send the message that reading is fun and an enjoyable activity that is challenging enough to stay interesting but not too hard and discouraging.
- Make reading an everyday activity: Good behaviour starts with good modelling. Set aside a quiet reading time at home and lead by example. Find a favourite book or read magazines and newspapers together. Read parts of your book to your child and encourage your child to read the parts of their book out loud that they think are funny or interesting. Reading together will help your child consolidate their comprehension across a variety of texts.
- Find a favourite author/ series: If your child expresses an interest in a particular series or author, visit your local library and borrow as many as you can. Once they have found an author they love or a series they want to finish, read along with them so you can talk about plot twists and characters.
- Take part in the Premier’s Reading Challenge: Get your child excited about the challenge. Go through the list with them and point out books you recognise and help them keep a record of their reading. A family reading challenge over the school holidays can be a fun way to keep your child reading through the break.
- Let them read what they want: If you want an independent reader, you must allow your child to read what they want (within reason). We know Bumageddon or Captain Underpants may not be an adult’s idea of quality reading material, but most kids cannot wait to turn the page to discover the next pongy, squirty thoroughly disgusting joke! Books like these are invaluable for reluctant readers (especially boys) because the gross-outs and jokes just don’t stop, and the print is broken up by cartoons, quirky footnotes, and other devices that keep the child engaged and reading. Most children move on from these texts within a short time, but the reading skills they have learnt stay with them for a lifetime.
- Take it to technology: Educational games and apps can be an effective way to get your child reading. Most games include instructions to get to the next level, and most children respond well to the concepts of rewards and “levelling up.” Computers can also provide a wealth of information, resources and games for children who enjoy reading about natural science, history, and other factual subjects.
When encouraging reading all of these steps can be hard to manage sometimes, but the rewards are well worth the effort. The best thing you can do as a parent is create the conditions that help make reading an enjoyable habit.