Helping you get the most out of your child’s education
“You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be – I had a mother who read to me.” – Strickland Gillilan
This is the last piece in my series regarding homework and homework tips for Junior Phase kiddies and their hard-working parents. It is about one of the most vital skills that are to be learnt in your child’s foundation years at school; reading.
What is often more important than the actual letter names, sounds and blends is a love for reading. This skill needs to nurtured and developed throughout your little one’s young life. It will open so many doors, by improving his understanding, making him think for himself and evoking a vivid imagination.
Remember that “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” - Emilie Buchwald. But, if you haven’t read to your child from a young age it is never too late to start! Try to set up fun-filled reading sessions in your house, whether it is half an hour on a Sunday afternoon or every evening before bedtime. Exposure to different types of reading material will encourage your child’s interest in literature in general. Have age appropriate magazines, picture books, cartoons and chapter books available at home, so that your child can pick up a book whenever he feels the urge. It is a good idea to have a small basket or a shelf with reading material in each room of your house, to increase accessibility. Try not to only read at bedtime (although if there is only one time in the busy day to look at a book, then this is as good a time as any!)
Your child will generally get a book to read for homework everyday, and sometimes two. Try to read his reader (the book that he is given at his level) during the afternoon homework session. If your child is not a very strong reader and you leave the reading homework until just before bed he may find this a frustrating, stressful exercise, and being sleepy may heighten the already aggravated emotions. However, make time to read a story to your child each night. If you have more than one child of similar ages then allow them to take turns choosing a story each night.
Some schools are lucky to have great resources and wonderful, fun and interesting reading ranges. On the other hand, some of the readers your child brings home may bring back memories from when you were a child! Don’t let boring readers destroy your child’s love for literature. Most towns have fantastic public libraries which are often extremely underused. Make time each week to take your children to your local library. This will also give you more of an idea of your child’s interests. It is a good idea to allow your child to choose any books that he finds interesting, but encourage him to take at least one book at his reading level. This will help to build his confidence when reading. It is important to remember that you want to assist in developing a life long passion for reading within your child. Confidence when reading will assist in developing this passion, so if your child wants to read books that just seem far too easy for him then allow it but show positive encouragement when he tries to read a book at his level too.
You may find that your children just don’t show interest in their books (that you have lovingly bought at great expense) anymore. If this is the case then ask a group of friends, or parents from your child’s class, whether they would be interested in a book rotation club. Making sure that all the books are clearly marked you could draw up a roster and each household could swap 10 books every fortnight. You could also set up a book club for your kids, meeting each week at one child’s house and every child could bring a book to swap and share.
Try to increase your child’s reading by replacing ten minutes of your little one’s TV time with reading time. The benefits of 10 minutes of extra reading a day will outweigh 10 minutes of extra TV! As the literary genius Roald Dahl would say: “So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”