Getting Kids To Read.

I've mentioned the Premier's Reading Challenge in the various states around Australia; these challenges are obviously to encourage kids to read and discover a love for books, to improve literacy and options for their future.

But, despite all the reading programs schools have in place and the encouragement and ample opportunities kids are given to pick up a book to explore its pages, some kids just won't read.

Oh these kids can read just fine, they "choose" not too and it ends with parents and/or teachers having arguments with each other and the aforementioned kid.
With everyone feeling wrung out like a dishrag and the kid STILL not reading.

In most kids this is called self-preservation.
These kids know when to call time out and nothing will shift them.
With the ever-increasing mental stimuli bombarding their brains on top of increased homework loads as they grow, increasing subjects in the school, peer pressure to conform with everyone else, competitive sports and constant bombardment from media in all shapes and sizes, some kids just can't cope with a mere 24 hour day!

And don't forget, in amongst all of that these kids need to relax and actually sleep.

I've known a number of kids who, at the end of the day, point blank refuse to read the books sent home from school simply because they're unable to focus on a single sentence.
They are so tired from being mentally wired all day they cannot process the words they're reading. It's all a jumble of meaningless letters to them.
This then starts a vicious circle; poor reading coupled with poor spelling and grammar skills result in poor marks on reports with parents and teachers at logger heads and blaming each other for not taking this child in hand and making him/her read a book.

Parents need to take a step back and reassess their child's current routine and use it and the child's interests to positively encourage reading; coz with all the arguments up till then reading has been anything BUT positive!
  • If a child is more able to focus in the morning then get up earlier and help them with a couple of pages of a book or let them read some appropriate articles from the newspaper.
  • If a kid likes drawing then ask them to read a single chapter from a book and draw the storyline and put the drawings into a folder to be added to with drawings from the following chapters.
  • Read to them in bed; it's an oldie but a goodie.
  • Set a time limit not a page limit. 10 mins to start and soon a kid will be reading the book more than watching the clock.
  • Get books on subjects that interest a child; little Johnny isn't going to be too keen to read a book on table manners or flower arranging but he might if it's dinosaurs or cars.
  • Make it a treat for a day out to the local library, every week. If there aren't many books at home being surrounded by the choice of books at the library will whet a kids appetite.
  • Go on a tour of your State Library.
  • Instead of a new toy as a treat, ask the child to choose a book. If they're undecided suggest they discuss it with their friends. It'll surprise the parent how much another child talking about a favourite book/author will influence their own child positively.
  • And don't forget ebooks! If a child finds it easier to read from a monitor than a book then hunt up the many free online ebooks available.
  • Turn the TV off for 30 mins each night and talk to the kids; get them to sit at the table to eat, discuss their day, what they've got planned for the next but REALLY listen. It's a very simple way for everyone to relax and build communication foundations - if you're listening to them then the kids will listen to you.
  • And reading is just another part of the communication process.