Today my daughter, Sophia, had a reading celebration for parents in her first grade classroom. All the parents were asked to attend and the kids were going to show their reading progress to us. When I arrived Sophia had a cozy little corner picked out to read in all set up with six-year-old size chairs and a powdered sugar donut waiting for me. Although my butt could barely squeeze in the miniature plastic seat and my knees were up to my chin, the smile on Sophia's face made it totally worth it and I was excited to see what she had in store for me.
Rewind to last year in kindergarten and it was a struggle to get her to work on sight words and reading. Evening would roll around and my husband and I would both groan about which one of us "got stuck" practicing with her. It is sad to actually admit that, but practicing usually ended up with frustration, a lack of patience and somebody in tears.
Over the summer I told myself I wasn't going to drill her daily, but I wanted to keep things fresh in her head, so I tried to find some simple ways to keep it fun and interesting. We played Memory with her sight words, sounded out words at the grocery store, played the alphabet game in the car and did a lot of drawing and creating picture captions. What made it fun for her is that it wasn't sitting at a table practicing; it was just incorporating word identification and reading into our daily routine. Duh! Why didn't I think of that sooner!
Since the start of the school year, we've seen a huge change in Sophia's attitude and she actually enjoys practicing her words and books. Today's reading celebration was proof that she is growing in her skills and she has so much more confidence and pride when it comes to reading. After playing reporter and interviewing me about why I like to read she proudly worked her way through If You Give a Moose a Muffin and then presented me with a cute card she made of us together.
If you're struggling with getting your child excited about reading here are a few tips that I recommend. These are things that have worked for our family and might for yours too!
1. Make the time to read, even if it's just one book. Sometimes it's been a long day, you're tired and your evenings feel jam packed. Maybe it's not the recommended 20 minutes a night, but hey, 5 minutes one night and 25 another even out eventually. It's just committing to doing it.
2. Put on your patience pants. This is one that I have to remind myself of all the time. I'm a very impatient person and "like mother, like daughter" Sophia is too. So each evening I take a deep breathe and tell myself to be patient and make the most of our time together. If you get frustrated your child will too, so make it fun and work through it together.
3. Let your child brag! Normally being a "bragger" isn't something you want to encourage, but in this case, let your child show of their progressing skills. Sophia's reading teacher suggests parents have a "brag bag" where you keep books that your child has mastered. Have your child pick out a book each night from the bag and let them read it to you. What kid doesn't want to show off their skills? It's a great way to build confidence through repetition.
4. Create flashcards with words at your child's reading level. There are so many things you can do with them. Make duplicates and play Memory, have your child say the word and then write it out, or have them use it in a sentence. Make "friends" and "stranger" bags. This is one from Sophia's reading teacher. As your child practices have them sort the words into ones that are "friends" or "strangers" based on if they know them or not. It motivates kids to want more "friends"!
5. Make book orders an incentive. I swear, we get a million book order forms home about every two weeks! Sophia always begs and begs, so I've turned it into an incentive. If she can master the books we order, then I'll buy more. It gets her excited about reading each night and keeps her focused.
6. I don't like to promote electronics for kids, but lets face it, they love them, so we might as well embrace them and manage their use. Look for online games that help with phonics. Sophia always asked to monkey with my Kindle or my husband's iPhone, so if she's going to play on them, we try and keep it to educational game (with the exception of Angry Birds). Some resources I like are www.bookadventure.com , www.seussville.com , www.pbskids.org and www.readingresource.net .
If you have any tips or tricks to get your child excited about reading I'd love to hear them.
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