Here at merka, we often talk about how important it is to read to your child. Reading together as a family is one of the best ways to help your child succeed academically and learn to love reading themselves. But sometimes it can be a challenge to fit reading into our busy schedules, or to get kids interested in it, especially as they get older.
Whether you want to start a new routine of reading in your family, or you want to increase your child’s capacity for being attentive to a story, here are some tips to add more reading into your daily routine.
1. Start small
You might be amazed over time at your child’s capacity for paying attention to read alouds, but just like anything, this capacity needs to be developed over time. For example, if you’re reading a chapter book to your grade schooler, start with just a page or two before bed every night. For preschoolers, sit with them and read one story, without expecting them to pay attention for longer.
If your child wants to keep going, great! But otherwise, keep it low key, and encourage them to listen just for a few minutes.
2. Don’t demand their attention
It’s okay if your child only seems to be half-listening; they may be paying more attention than you think.
3. Stop when it’s getting good
Don’t test your child’s attention span for too long; stop when the story is getting interesting, or when your child has been attentive for several minutes. This will keep them wanting to come back for more, rather than leaving them with a negative impression by waiting until they’re distracted and ready to stop listening.
4. Choose the right reading level
It’s beneficial to choose read-alouds that are slightly above your child’s independent reading level. This introduces them to new vocabulary and allows them to follow more complicated plotlines than they can manage on their own.
But, especially if you have multiple children, don’t worry about reading something that seems “beneath” them either. Anything that piques their interest is a worthwhile read! Just try to incorporate a more challenging book once in awhile.
5. Let them multitask
In other words, allow or even encourage your child to do something else while you’re reading. Coloring, fidgeting, drawing, etc. are all a way for them to let their energy out, allowing them to pay attention for longer. Do work on teach them good manners as their capacity for listening grows; help them learn to listen quietly, but encourage them to ask questions or talk about the book with you if they want to.
Bonus tip: Kids often enjoy being read to while they’re eating; try making snack time read-aloud time and you might be pleasantly surprised by how well they listen!