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Finding the balance between reading for fun and reading homework with children

Many parents report feeling overwhelmed trying to help their children learn to read. The child who loved stories as a toddler and preschooler suddenly may seem at risk of never picking up a book again.

How do parents make the link between the comfort and happiness of the bedtime story tradition to completing reading homework from school? Here are a few tips for creating a positive experience.

1. Keep reading time fun and fast. Books that come home from school for practice do not have to be read entirely by the child, and the session length is best kept to less than half an hour, based on your child’s body language. Share the reading by alternating pages.

The parent is able to model how good reading sounds. The child will hear and mimic the way the words fall together into natural phrases and use expression and tone appropriately. Not only will the time fly, but your child will have a better understanding of the story as a result of being happily engaged in its telling.

2.  Offer choices:

“Do you want to read the first page or should I start?”
“What do you think the dinosaur’s voice would sound like?”
“Do you want to be different characters this time, instead of taking turns on the pages? Who do you want to be?”

3. Praise reading that sounds like talking, and rereading to fix what doesn’t make sense, sound right or look right.

4. Make a huge deal about your child’s new reading skills, and make mistakes on purpose so the new ‘expert’ will have to correct you. Be amazed again. The talent.

5.  Consider the wisdom of Maya Angelou:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.”

These little people are working hard to put a lot of information together. Many children who struggle with reading already know that they are behind their peers by the beginning of grade one, and show signs of low self-esteem as a result. Read for fun, and change things up at the first sign of frustration. Stories are for enjoying. Finish up the session by reading a favorite.

Learn more about early childhood education:


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