It had me revisiting what I’ve learned about raising kids who love to read and making a mental list of ways I can encourage Kaitlyn in her reading journey.
Learning to read is a huge milestone in our children’s lives. But, it can be a daunting task and we might find that one child struggles a little or is more timid in their reading journey. Thankfully, there are some easy things that we can do as parents to boost our children’s reading confidence.
Scale down the pressure
First off, if you are feeling stressed about it, take a deep breath. We can relax a little when it comes to helping our kids learn to read. Not every child picks it up quickly and that’s totally okay because they’ll get it eventually. Stay patient and supportive.
Make it fun instead of work
Children learn through play (and unstructured play is important). The same is true for adults to some extent. If you don’t think what you’re doing is fun or enjoyable you approach it with less passion and less of a desire to succeed. If you can show your kid that reading is fun it’ll go a long way towards building their drive to learn.
You can do this by picking silly books, reading with an expressive tone of voice, or acting out the actions in the book. There’s nothing that makes a kid smile more than hearing you “oink” like a pig or wave your hands like an octopus.
Of course, you don’t have to go to extremes to make reading fun. If you get excited about sitting down to read with them, they’ll get excited too. The way you approach a reading session makes all the difference in the world.
You could make it a habit to snuggle in a certain spot, or pull out a special blanket, or sip on a special tea. All create strong connections and happy memories.
You can help boost your child’s reading confidence by reading alongside them. This is especially true if you’re approaching it in a fun way. Knowing that you’re sitting right beside them gives them the support they need because they know if they’re struggling over a word, you’ll be there to help them out.
However, it’s important to let them try on their own before jumping in to help. Give them the opportunity to figure it out and then offer a hint or help them sound out the word. Don’t just provide them with the right word. It can be hard to be patient (I know I often have to bite my tongue), but the pride they’ll feel when they figure out the word themselves will really help build their reading confidence.
Give them time alone to practice
Reading alone can be just as helpful as reading with you. When your kid reads by themselves it forces them to problem solve, sound out letters and make connections. It allows them the pride of saying, “I did it all by myself!” which is what every parent wants.
It also removes a lot of the pressure. If your child feels that they can’t make a mistake or they’re worried about messing up in front of you they may struggle with reading. Solo reading sessions give them the safe space they need to make those mistakes.
Have them read to their stuffed animals or pets
One of the ways you can make reading fun is to get your child to read to their stuffed animals or pets. Similar to reading alone, this removes any fear of judgement or making a mistake.
In addition, they’ll be reading out loud which helps them form connections between the sound of the words and the letters on the page. If your young reader has a younger brother or sister you can make use of their siblings by putting them in the audience. Reading to a younger sibling who doesn’t know how to read yet is a great way to fill your kids with pride and boost their reading confidence.
Branch out and read everyday objects
Instead of formal reading sessions, sometimes it’s okay to just get your kid to read everyday objects. This removes a lot of the pressure and might make it fun for them. You could get them to read words in a magazine cover at the supermarket checkout or you could ask them if they know what any of the words on their cereal box say.
Realizing that they may actually know how to read some of the words that are all around them can get your kid really excited about reading. It’ll also help them feel more confident in their abilities. After all, those magazines are made for adults and they’ll think it’s pretty cool if they’re grown up enough to read parts of them!
Give them lots of positive reinforcement
Isn’t it amazing how quickly criticism and nit-picking can erode a child’s confidence? Give your child lots of praise when they work hard to get a tough word right. When they struggle with a word, skip the criticism and instead, acknowledge how tough the word is and encourage them to keep trying.
Keep reading sessions short
If you’re going to have formal reading sessions a good tip to keep in mind is to keep those reading sessions short. Like 10-15 minutes kind of short.
Learning to read takes up a lot of brain power and your kid can quickly get tired if you go too long. Short sessions give them enough time to practice, but not enough time to get frustrated. Whenever possible, end on a high note. This will set the stage for a successful reading session the next time around.
Let them choose the books
This tip makes a world of difference and it relates to making reading fun. The act of picking out a book gets your kid interested and engaged before you even sit down to read. You wouldn’t read a book you’re not interested in and neither will you child.
Be a good role model
That leads me to the last tip. Be a good role model. Let your child see you reading. It doesn’t matter much what it is. If they see you picking up something to read in your spare time then they’re more likely to do it as well. Your child wants to be like you, so if you’re a reader, chances are, they’ll be one too!
This last tip is one I’m constantly striving to do better at. I do more audiobooks than written because I can multitask with walking or cooking. However, I do want my kids to see me with physical books, too, so I’m working on it.
The key to helping your child develop reading confidence lies in patience and positive support. Keep reading sessions upbeat and fun and you’ll have a confident young reader in no time!