In our house we are big readers, as a mum and someone who has worked with children it is something I am passionate about and I personally have very actively encourage! I started reading to my boys at the ripe old age of 6 wks and have actively done so ever since. Some people might think that is slightly crazy – However it really has paid of now! I believe personally reading is such an important life skill and it can open many doors to other forms of learning, without the skill of reading a child can struggle to progress in other areas of life and learning. It is something as parents we can assist our children with, to release the burden on overworked and underpaid teachers – when we may not be able to assist with other school subjects!
It hasn’t always been easy, it has taken determination and will power at times! My eldest was a reluctant delayed reader due to early speech and hearing difficulties. For many years I read to him, choosing to put little pressure on him to actually read the book to me, pressure in my opinion and in what I have witness though work experiences would only had to lead to reluctance and a hatred of reading books when he was just not ready. Today ‘British Society and school system’ can place too much pressure on children and parents feeling they have to tick an expectation box by a certain age or being made to feel their child will not achieve great things/ meaning they have failed as parents or the fault lies with them. No parent or child should ever feel that way! Every child is different and they all develop at their own rate, Very few children if any really fits in the tick box – How can they? as no two children are the same. Quite often the child who is struggling does have a very determined parent offering the right support behind them. It just easy to see a child’s weakness as a parents fault and not look at the bigger picture.
In my working life I have met parents who are so proud and push that their children can read at the age of 2, thinking they are so clever. However very few children really understand what they are doing at that age when it comes to reading – they are reading by memory, picture recognition and don’t understand the context at all, These children sometimes, (not always) later on in school lead to switching of because they are bored, pushed to fast or actually never got the reasons behind the learning skills. I also have met children who have not learnt to read until the age of 9 and have gone on to get scholarships at Harrow and Eton school based on their later academic achievements. It does not mean one is brighter than the other or one will do better in life. As the 9-year-old may have been developing other skills early on that gives them the ability, push, desire and will power to succeed without pressure.
My point here is I personally chose not to succumb to pressure of others (I rarely do anyway) and waited for him to be ready in his own time. I focused more on teaching him:
How listening/ reading a book can be enjoyable, fun and what the purpose of reading actually was.
Understanding the context of books.
How – that when he could read, ‘He could disappear for a while in an imaginary world’ or ‘learn facts’,’
Learning to read would help him with reading everyday important stuff” and ‘in turn it would help him with writing/school work spelling/ grammar/ essay writing’.
Most importantly, that today it might make no sense and seem a impossible chore however that one day it would all become clear.
In the last year I have seen the results of all that effort, He finally enjoys reading to us and is a great clear expressionist reader. He now ‘gets it!’ and takes confidence and motivation from being able to read everyday things. My point is ‘It is worth it!’, dont give up as parents or thing why am I wasting my time! You are never wasting your time or effort it will pay of at some point.
My youngest on the other hand has found reading fairly easy and has not has as many struggles with learning to read. He struggles more with actually being engrossed with listening to a story. Finding a topic that really catches his interest along side his brothers is not always easy. Finding a topic that interest is half the battle to getting a child to listen. Reading to them separately has not worked in the past for us either in our house – both want to snuggle up at the same time and cannot be convinced to take that part in turns.
So Hence: recently we have been working our way though The Roald Dahl collection with my eldest (they take it in turns to choose the books we are reading together each night – We choose a book and read it to the end before starting a new one, so some books can last a while). The eldest really enjoyed it, however the youngest struggled to get engrossed either due to his age or the topic. We chose to make the book come alive with crafts inspired by the book – we quite often do this. Apart from being fun it makes the story more real, exciting and can help with understanding the context. The reluctant child then becomes more interested in turn. These ideas have included our own stickman (Stickman), Butterflies (The hungry caterpillar), boats (Toy boat), Erupting Volcano (when reading a fact books we explored how a volcano worked) etc… Over the next few weeks I will try to put some of our other ideas we have done in the project section – bare with me.
When reading ‘The BFG’ by Roald Dahl, we decided to make our own dream jars which turned out pretty cool and Dream catchers (we cheated here and bought a kit) for our bedroom windows, plus we then did made some of our own extra dream catchers for the garden at a later stage. If your interested in having ago check out the project section, they will be there later today hopefully.
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