Monday, September 26, 2016

Help! My kid won't read!

I have two children, and I tried the same parenting approach with both.  I'm an avid reader, as you already know, and I wanted my children to share this love.  Reading is so important for development, critical thinking skills as well as a good imagination.  People  need to be able to read signs, and nutrition information, legal documents, subtitles, all sorts of things!  Learning a love of reading early on can change a child's life.

Scenario with child number one:
Pick child up and put on my lap.  "Let Mommy read you a story!"
I open the book, his eyes fill with wonder and he begins to point and attempt to ask questions.
BOOM!  Book love established.  In fact, the first word he spoke was 'book.'

Scenario with child number two:
Pick child up and put on my lap.  "Let Mommy read you a story!"
Child yanks book out of my hand, takes a huge bite, chews and swallows.  Hops down off my lap, runs to a corner to sit and eat the rest of the book.

Now, you may think I'm making this up.  Nope.  Same parenting, drastically different results.  In child number two's defense, he has PICA.  Books are food, not brain food.

But reading is still important!  So how did we overcome this obstacle?

1.  We let him choose what he wanted to read.  Sure, non-fiction and fiction are both essential.  But the most important part is teaching a love of reading, and you can add other genres in later.  For mine, he loves trains.  Train books became a staple.  Another child I know loves dinosaurs.  Give a child something they're interested in to read first.  The rest can come later.

2.  Make sure they see you read.  Even on the days they hate you, you're still their hero and number one role model.  Let them see you reading and enjoying it.  Positive examples!

3.  Don't force.  Do you remember how much you hated cleaning your room as a kid?  The more you were nagged to do it, the more you hated it?  Being forced to do something will never nurture a love for that thing.  Be patient!

4.  Work on cognitive skills.  There's no point in reading a book if you don't understand it.  If you're reading with your child, be sure to ask questions.  When the child realizes they have an understanding of what they're reading, they'll be more inclined to do it.

5.  Praise, praise, praise!  If you catch your child with a book, even if they're just building a tower, let them know you're pleased!

6.  Be creative!!  My little guy has severe separation anxiety.  Every morning before school I write him a letter.  We started out with one paragraph, double-spaced.  Now, I'm writing a full page of single spaced paragraphs to him, and in letter format!  We're about to progress on to a second page.  He reads it every day at school, sometimes more than once.  It helps with his separation anxiety, but it's also great reading practice.  This won't necessarily work for your child.  Get creative!  Where can you insert reading into your child's life?

Of course, the list for helping cultivate a love of reading in a child is vast and endless, but these are the ones that I've found that have really helped us.  Keep in mind that all children are different.  Child number one and I share books like most people share germs.  Child number two and I share books like most people share dirty underwear.  That's not supposed to be often.  I assume it's not often.  If it is, then I apologize to you dirty underwear sharers.


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