Welcome back readers! I recently received an email from a mum, about her 2.5 year old daughter, who is reluctant to sit down and enjoy a book. This mama was concerned that her daughter was missing out on valuable learning time and started to worry that she was losing opportunities to build her vocab. We talked about the ways she could engage her child, and encourage her to explore the books without running off, screaming or being difficult.
Here are some tips we talked about for engaging her reluctant young reader (Aged 1-5).
* only read short board books. Keep the whole thing short and sharp.
* Allow your child to choose the book. But only let them choose from about 3 or so. That way they don’t get overwhelmed or distracted.
* If your child’s favourite book is a bit long then only read half the story, use a book mark, then read the other half another time.
* Set up a reading space with a pillow and a small box of books. Put your child there with nothing else available to play with. Hopefully your child goes for the books and pulls them out, flicks through them etc. If you see your child engaging with the books try to read a couple pages to show just how reading is done.
* Read in the same place every day so your child understands when reading is about to happen. You may need to trial a few places before you find something that works. Some children like this consistency… .
* OR mix it up. Put books in different places around the house that way they are easily accessible for your little one. Baskets and boxes are great, but be sure to have the front covers on display so they can choose a book that is the right fit for them. Something that interests them. This sort of flexibility might be less confronting for your child. All kids are different remember.
* Make a book. We used a photo album with pictures of us in it and only one or two words per page. It can be about anything they like. Try family, animals, friends etc and include photos and only a few words, if any.
* Model reading. When your child has had enough and wants to wriggle away, let them play, but, if you can swing it, you stay put and finish reading the book. Hopefully your child will see you still with the book and it will either prompt them get to come back and join you or, at the very least, it will demonstrate “mummy’s reading behaviour.” Your child may ignore you for a while but persist over the weeks. Hopefully they eventually get the hint and want to copy you.
* Try a story time or a rhyme time at the library perhaps. It’s a new environment and lots of fun. Sometimes the little ones need to mix it up just like we do. It may distract your child even more, OR it may encourage them to engage in reading just like the other kids. Modeling is a really effective tool in things like this. Hopefully your little reader will see others getting into the books and do the same.
* Last but not least… lower your expectations just a bit. Not in a pessimistic/give up on your child way. Haha! But be gentle with your child and remember the small wins really do count. If you get 2 solid and engaged pages from your child then that’s a great achievement!
…. and on that last one… PRAISE!! And lots of it. If your child demonstrates ANY positive reading behaviour then be sure to congratulate them! “Great page turning” “great pointing to the pictures” etc. Keep your praise short and very relevant. (up to 4 words ish).
Give some of these tips a go. They may work for your reluctant young reader. If they don’t work, please feel free to email me and we can come up with some new ideas.