Is your child throwing a tantrum every time you are trying to teach him to read? Are you lowkey worried that your child will lag way behind his agemates? I get it, the fear is crippling you!
Let me disclose the big secret – it’s ONLY NORMAL!
A child’s brain is ever-curious. They are always looking at different things and learning on the go. This trait comes at the price of a lower attention span.
For example, a three- to four-year-old have an average attention span of 6-20 minutes. But reading is an activity that demands more time. Especially, children struggle to read fluently in the early days, so it takes a long time for them to read anything.
There are a lot of smart ways to boost up the reading skills of your child.
Let’s explore, shall we?
Forget about Reading Skills – Start with Storytelling!
Let me tell you a scenario – you want your child to read. More precisely, you want him to fall in love with books. So, you’ve piled up a huge collection of best-selling children’s books. Why? Because, all the other parents tell you that their children love reading those books.
But your child is completely ignoring them!
He just doesn’t like to read!
Does it sound familiar?
If so, you could take a minor detour.
First, make them fall in love with stories. Tell them stories, fables, fairytales – anything! Try to explore and figure out what kind of stories make him intrigued.
You could use a book or go freestyle using your own words and imagination. Children love listening to stories – it’s an instinctive behavior. While reading is an active way of learning something, listening is a passive activity.
Simply put, listening is far easier than decoding words and sentences to enjoy a story.
Also, I strongly suggest adding some drama to the process. Act it out to help them feel the depth of the situations.
For example, play with the tempo and pace, add laughter, create a suspense and climax, act out the dialogues, and so on.
Basically, use all kinds of storytelling skills to provoke their imagination.
There are three goals to achieve in this phase –
- Showing him that stories are fun
- Provoking imagination
- Teaching the proper pronunciation of words
Now, continue this storytelling habit for some time. Don’t push them to read books yet, you’ll spoil the fun!
Once, they fall in love with stories and figure out that reading is the best way to enjoy a story, they will automatically turn to reading.
Read to Him, Aloud!
If you are reading to your child while storytelling, excellent!
But if you have been following the freestyle method, it’s time to introduce books in the process.
It’s a crucial transition phase.
Because we tend to use only known words/vocabulary while going freestyle. But if you read from a book, you will use the words selected by the writer.
It’ll broaden their vocabulary by a considerable margin.
While reading, your child will often ask questions like –
What’s a mountain/cave/forest?
What’s a wizard?
Basically, he’ll ask questions to learn about every unknown word. If he’s not asking questions, then you should do that for them.
For example, after telling the sentence, “The angry tiger lived in the mountains,” ask him, “Do you know what a mountain is?”
Then, you would explain to him what a mountain is.
Vocabulary is the most essential tool for reading. It gives meaning to the stories. So, think of this phase as a preparation stage for the actual reading. Well, reading aloud actually does a lot more than only increasing vocabulary.
Now, your child can understand the direct relations among stories, books, and reading.
There, the preparation phase is almost done!
Introduce Him to Books, Especially, Picture Books
By this time, he is not in a fight with the books but eager to befriend them.
Now that your child is nagging you for bedtime stories after your successful mission of making him fall in love with stories, it’s time to begin the phase three!
It’s time for some shopping!
Go to a good bookstore with a decent collection of children’s books. Let him roam freely and explore the store himself.
He’ll feel like being in a museum of stories!
It’s a fascinating feeling – a connecting moment!
While you SHOULD encourage him to choose any book, a good starting point is going for the picture books.
Picture books have a low-page count (conventionally 32 pages long or less) and little-or-no words in them to describe the story.
So, he can finish the whole story in one go, considering his short attention span limit.
You might say, “But he’s not reading at all!”
The goal is NOT to make him read texts but to expect him go through a whole book all by himself.
Time to Start Reading!
Yes, we have chosen a very long road to reach here!
But we’ve laid a strong foundation, and now, the books are very good friends of your child.
Trust me, it’s a huge success!
But we have to battle the monster now – the actual task of reading.
It’s only normal that he will struggle a lot initially. He’ll face a lot of issues like –
- Struggle decode long words
- Fail to spell and pronounce unknown words
- Stutter a lot
- Struggle to complete a sentence in one go
- Failure to comprehend a passage or paragraph as he was so busy decoding the words
These are only a few common ones. There might be other issues too.
Is there any simple solution?
The only way to overcome these issues is to practice, a lot. The more your child reads, the better he becomes at it.
Plus, you need to be there to help with every small issue.
You need to understand that everyone had faced these exact issues. Consider them as natural hurdles. This is why we went through all those long steps so that his affinity for books and stories don’t die out.
Patience is his and your best friend now.
Re-reading – The Confidence Booster
Naturally, his confidence and eagerness will diminish as he’s struggling in the early phase of reading. You can tackle it with a simple trick.
Ask him to re-read the same book over and over (could be his favorite book). Each time he reads the book, he will get better at reading it. He will overcome the previous mistakes and eventually be able to read it flawlessly.
This sense of completion and achievement with boost his morale and confidence.
Don’t forget to offer him compliments and encouragements through this long struggle.
Be the Example
Kids are good copy-cats!
They view their parents as the ideal role models.
So, if you want your child to read, you NEED to read regularly too. Otherwise, he’ll lose interest in it.
Plus, kids have a sharp eye for hypocrisy. He might turn against you if you don’t practice your own preaching.
Surely, teaching your child to read is a tough nut to crack and takes a long time. But it’s worth the effort. Reading is one of the most valued and important linguistic skills for learning a language.
Plus, in many ways, it determines a child’s educational success and growth as a human being.