Learning to read is one of the first things children learn in education. That’s because it is an essential skill that opens up doors for the rest of education. A bulk of learning takes place through reading – reading textbooks, newspapers, signboards, and so on.
Considered a key aspect of literacy, reading is not merely useful for reading storybooks – it is a form of empowerment. In poverty-stricken parts of the world, literacy can make a world of difference by providing opportunities for employment.
As a parent, you would definitely want your child to pick up this crucial skill early and develop confidence in it. While some kids take to books like a magnet, some kids require more effort to cultivate their interest in reading. An added challenge exists when bringing up bilingual children – all your efforts in promoting reading needs to be doubled!
If you face challenges getting your child to read, these tips may help you cultivate their appetite for reading:
Select level-appropriate material
The books you give your child to read should reflect their reading level. Reading material that is too easy will not help the child improve, while text that is too difficult will discourage the child. Instead, the books you select should be just enough to teach the child some new words, but also build their confidence in reading.
Some children’s book series have a label for the recommended reading level – while a useful gauge, it is also possible your child may be slower or faster than the average. Don’t worry about this and pick what is most suitable for your child.
Create a routine for reading
Establishing a daily routine for reading will help your child get used to reading regularly. It can be a winding-down activity before bedtime, or a short storytime before dinner. By incorporating reading into the daily schedule, kids will be less resistant to it.
When parents make it a point to read with their child, it can also serve as a great bonding opportunity. Even if it starts out as just a routine to follow, most likely, kids will soon discover the joys of reading and look forward to reading time each day.
Read aloud to young children
It can be daunting to get restless, unwilling or unconfident young children to sit down and read. For a start, reading aloud to them will help them, as they can still pick up new words by listening and talking about the story.
Dramatising the reading of the story can also capture the attention of your child, and pique their interest in reading. The key is to show them that books can be fascinating and fun to read, which will give them reason to pick up a book by themselves in future.
Choose text that interest the child
Sometimes, a lack of interest in reading may be due to the subject matter of the text rather than an aversion to reading itself. Try exposing your child to different types of stories and reading material and find some that interests them.
If you know your child has a special fascination with certain topics, you can leverage on reading material that deals with those topics to motivate them to read. For example, if your child loves dinosaurs, you can find them storybooks with dinosaurs as the characters, or a kid’s encyclopedia of dinosaurs.
Visit the library regularly
Children’s stories are short, and children’s reading abilities develop so quickly. Buying new books each time will be a costly affair, to say the least. Instead, visiting the library regularly is an excellent way to ensure your child has a ready supply of fresh material to read each day.
Having different books to read every week will ensure your child doesn’t get bored, and you can also expose them to a wide variety of texts, adjusting the level of books as they gain confidence.
The best way to get children to read is to develop an interest for it. Your goal will be met when your child discovers the joys of reading, and enjoys it as a leisure activity. Equally important as the parents’ efforts at home are the efforts taken by the school to cultivate strong language abilities in children.
The school can instil a child’s love for reading and build confident readers through well-implemented reading programmes and language syllabi. Take the Canadian International School, for example – the international school in Singapore is known for its comprehensive language programmes that cater to the diverse cultures of students. Students can pick up a second language as early as pre-kindergarten up till the time they embark on the IB diploma programme in Singapore, whether through a bilingual programme or otherwise.
If you want to supplement your efforts with a holistic language programme within the well-known Singapore IB education framework, you now know where to look.