As parents, we want to raise confident readers, but between commercials for teaching our babies to read and the large sections of flash cards and workbooks at the store, the whole prospect of how to accomplish it can be stressful.
But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it may be easier than we think. Here are 10 workbook-free ways you can raise a more confident reader:
Read aloud to your kids. Reading to your kids is a wonderful way to lay the foundation for developing literacy skills. Younger kids can learn to pick up words through repetition. So while you may be tired of the same story over and over (and over) again, the kids are actually making some fantastic connections!
Meanwhile, when you read to older kids you expose them to more challenging words and give their imaginations a workout. Plus, who doesn’t love having a story read to them?
Have your kids read to you. Reading can be stressful when you have to do it in front of a class. Help your child build their confidence at home by reading to you, a sibling or even, and I know this sounds crazy, a pet. The idea here is that you want your child to practice in front of an audience of fans.
Have books around the house. You know the old saying, “practice makes perfect?” Well, if we want our kids to become confident readers, they’ll need practice with lots of reading material.
Plus, according to a 2010 study, having as few as 20 books in the home had a significant impact on whether or not children sought a higher education. The study found it to be even more significant than his or her parents’ level of education. Incredible!
Let your kids catch you reading. I know it may sound silly to let your kids catch you reading, but seeing you read for pleasure can have a big impact on how kids view reading. So don’t wait until after the kids go to bed to break into a book.
Give kids control. Let them pick out the stories. Ask them what they’d like to read and go for it, even if it’s a comic book. Comics are a great way to get kids practicing their reading.
Make it part of a daily habit. Pick a time every day to read to the kids. It can be at bedtime, before dinner, after dinner, at breakfast time or any other part of the day. Pick a time that will work best for your family. But also don’t stress when you need to skip a day. We all get busy from time to time.
Don’t be afraid to challenge them. I know I said give kids control over what they read, but a little nudge now and then is good for everyone. Next time you’re at the library or book store, choose a book for your child that is slightly above their level. You don’t want to frustrate them, so don’t make it too hard. But handing it over and telling them you know they’ll rock the challenge can be a nice confidence booster!
Bond over books. Share your favorite stories from when you were a kid. Read one of your child’s favorites and discuss it. Get lost in the story, root for the hero, boo the villain.
Avoid making reading time quiz time. It’s okay to occasionally ask questions, especially if it looks like you’ve lost them or they look confused about what they’re reading, but our goal at home is to reinforce the importance of reading for pleasure.
Limit screen time. I know this is one of those things easier said than done, but work as a family to reduce the amount of screen time kids have during the school week. Hold off putting a TV in their rooms for as long as you can and keep computers in a central part of the house. Not only will you see what types of media they’re consuming, it can help your child trade screen time for reading time.
As parents, we can’t control everything (it’s a lesson I’ve learned over and over again), but we can help shape things. By creating a home environment that celebrates the printed word, hopefully we can help the next generation grow into thoughtful, confident readers.