So, these days it is more common to see your child sitting down playing video games, watching television, surfing the net, or listening to music. And for the most part there is nothing wrong with any of those activities, so long as they are done in moderation. It is not uncommon for parents to wish that their kids would participate in more constructive activities – reading books for instance – however, the problem is getting them to sit down and open a book a few times a week.
One way to get them to start is by sitting down and reading aloud to them. Instil the love of reading and stories by showing how much you also love them. As I am sure you can attest to, many children see the connection between books and school homework, which can be off putting. But by showing them the joys of going on adventures to wonderous places with imaginative characters, you can encourage them to read more often.
According to a US government study, there is a direct relationship with reading aloud to your children and childhood literacy rates. Besides being a good chance to spend quality time with your kids, reading children’s books and other materials to them is a great way to get an educational head start for pre-school.
The government report concluded that reading aloud to children has shown to have a positive effect on their literacy outcomes, by gaining experience through being exposed to the written language. This enable them to begin to make connections between the spoken word and the printed word.
However, regrettably today there a few who take pleasure in reading a book. In another study 7 out of 10 9-year-olds enjoyed reading as a pastime, compared to the 78% a few years earlier, while in 11-year-olds it declined from the 77% to 65%. It was found that children preferred to watch television compared to reading. The biggest changes were registered in boys. For those in Year 6, 55% of the boys said that they enjoyed reading compared to the 70% in 1998.
Thus, the challenge today is to get children – especially males – to read and to enjoy it. Reading aloud to them is a good way to tackle this. A technique to do this is to make reading a game, an interactive adventure for you both to enjoy.
Using the so-called “Charlotte Mason” method is one way to do this. Here you have the child “tell back” in his or her own words of what just happened. Choses a short book, poem, or perhaps a chapter of a longer one. They then must focus on the story and understand its meaning. This method of verbal narration is especially effective in younger children who may not have the writing skills to be able to put their thoughts down on paper.
The goal is to get your child to open a book for fun, on their own, without being told to by either parents or teachers. I can clearly remember spending time in my schools’ library and reading any fantasy books I could get my hands on, especially the Harry Potter series, and the hours of excitement that came with going on magic filled adventures every chance I got to sit and read them.