Reading is the most basic academic skill that your child will learn. It is the first and the most important. Without the ability to read and read well, she will not be able to succeed academically or at much of anything else in life. Some children will embrace reading and books immediately, while others avoid reading like the plague.
You have a tremendous amount of influence over your children, as you well know. Especially as a homeschooler, you have the power to affect the way your children learn and what they value. One of the most positive impacts you can have is instilling a love for reading and books. Children who love to read usually turn into adults who love to read. Avid readers are generally more knowledgeable, better thinkers, more creative, learn more efficiently, and are better problem solvers than those who do not read often. Whatever you can do to help your child enjoy reading will help to set her on the right track.
- Start early. The sooner you bring books and reading into your child’s life, the better. As soon as they are born, children begin to absorb information from the world around them. Even as tiny infants, they are drinking it all in. Begin immediately to read stories to your child. Use a variety of picture books and read to her often. As impossible as it may seem, your little baby will be learning from you already.
- Be a good example. Use your influence over your child to create a book lover. If you read frequently, chances are better that she will also become a regular reader. Show your child that reading a book is better than watching television and one of the best ways to relax and escape. Also be an example by continuing to read to your child. If you start early and read stories to her consistently, she will begin to think of reading as a habit rather than a chore.
- Make books important. Create an area of your home that is devoted to books and reading. Keep a variety of books on the shelves and make the room comfortable and inviting. You can put cozy chairs, beanbags, and lots of pillows and blankets to make the room somewhere that everyone wants to be. Make this room a television, computer, and cell phone-free place to put the focus solely on reading. Teach your child to respect the books early on. Show her how to keep books in good shape by putting them away, using bookmarks instead of folding pages, and being careful not to break the binding.
- Stock the reading room. To keep your child interested in reading, it is important to have plenty of books on hand. Stock the shelves with a wide variety of books on different topics. Include some that will be challenging for your child’s current reading level and those that she can work towards being able to read. Buying books does not have to be expensive. You can find books for a dollar or less at used book stores and library sales. You might also consider swapping with friends. You could host a get together with your homeschooling group. If everyone brings the books they are bored with, you can swap and get new books for free. Don’t forget trips to your local library as well!
- Make reading a family event. Pick a book that the whole family will enjoy, like an easy chapter book or young adult book, depending on the age of your children. Spend two or three nights each week in the reading room, reading the book aloud. Everyone can get involved by taking turns reading out loud. Those who are too young to read can listen. This is a great way to have family time and to demonstrate to your children that reading is important and valuable to every member of the family.
- Let your child guide the reading. Your child should learn to love reading as a pastime, not just as a tool for learning. There may be certain books you want her to read for her studies and to learn about specific subjects, but you should also let her guide her reading. If you provide your child with enough books on a variety of topics, she will be able to choose what interests her. If she has free reign to select her own books, she will be intrinsically motivated to read and to learn. Accommodate her whims. If she is into cats one week and dogs the next, be sure to find books that will satisfy her intellectual curiosity.
- Try comics. For a child who just can’t get excited about reading, you may need to mix in a little fun. Although they were condemned as bad for reading for many years, comic books are now recognized by experts as a great way to help a struggling reader. With pictures that act out the story as well as words, your child will be able to improve her reading skills. Children are naturally drawn to comics and often are more willing to read them than they are books.
- Use activities. Another way to make books more fun for a reluctant reader is to involve projects and activities. Try a craft book, a cook book, or a book with science experiments. Tell your child that in order to make the craft, bake the cookies, or experiment with making slime, she will have to read the directions. This not only attaches meaning to the act of reading, it gives your child an incentive to get into a book.
It is essential that you get your children on the path to good reading habits as early as possible. It is their most important academic skill and will lead to being able to write, learn, and think. Without reading and books, your child’s academic success will be in jeopardy. As a homeschooling parent, you have a great responsibility to demonstrate the importance of reading.
©2012 Off the Grid News