Andrea Loewen Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


Growing Your Child's Interest In Reading

Increasing Literacy And Reading Fun

Back in March I was interviewed by Toronto Star reported Alyshah Hasham about a recent study that found Canadian parents were spending "more time reading, telling stories, singing songs, drawing, and teaching new words and letters to their pre-kindergarten-age daughters than their sons."

The writers of the study wondered if this was a cause for boys lagging behind in academics in the early years of school.

Having two young boys myself, I know how hard it can be to get boys to sit and be interested in reading. Regardless if you have a young boy or girl, here are some suggestions to make reading fun:

Make sure the "ya-yas" are all out of the kids. Children have a hard time focusing when they haven't had a chance to burn some energy off. This is one of the reasons I value walking or biking to school instead of being dropped off. Let the kids run and play before sitting them down to read, draw or write.

Print the lyrics of their favourite songs. Cut and paste the lyrics over to a Word file so you can enlarge the font-size. Depending on the age of the child, you can practice letter sounds or read the actual lyrics while playing the music. Practice singing the song without looking at the words too and try things like, "Ack! I don't remember the next line—can you read it out to me?

Ask your children to read the road signs for you. Again, if the children are younger, ask them to find the letters you need. Older children can read the whole sign. My boys absolutely love doing this! This also teaches them the foundations for navigation.

Read with your children as long as they will sit. If they can only stay still for a short time, schedule many of these short reading times throughout the day. Please don't get frustrated when they start to squirm—it is important to set up a positive association for reading time.

Most young children LOVE to help with baking and cooking. Ask your child to read out the recipe steps for you or read what ingredients are needed, and set off looking for those. Now that my youngest isn't ransacking cupboards anymore, I have put all the baking ingredients where they can be reached.

Use reading games. I discovered a game called "uKloo" that uses reading, running around, and hiding objects together—an obvious hit for kids. My boys beg to play this game with us. We even used it one day to hide my son's birthday present; he read through the clues and discovered his present at the end of the trail.

Find magazines geared for young children that explore their interests. Our child's school is involved in the magazine fundraising program so we used that as an opportunity to try out lots of different publications. (Chickadee/ National Geographic Kids/ Chirp/ OWL/ Zootles)

Buy books as a souvenir on trips. When we are in a different city, we buy a book about that city/area to remember our trip and learn new, fun things. Books last longer than stuffies or t-shirts!

Make sure your children see you relaxing and enjoying reading. I love "mommy rest-time" where I tell the boys it is time where they play something they don't need help with (they are 3 and 5 years old) and I plop down on the sofa near them to read.

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