With schools (and everything else) closed and lots (and lots and lots) of extra time at home, a golden opportunity has been presented to us parents and caregivers. We have time to read. So do our children. Research has shown us that students are far more likely to read independently and successfully if given time and choice. That’s pretty much all we have right now, right?
So, a few things to keep in mind while we’re home with our children:
- If you’re the type of parent that thrives on a more fixed schedule, then you’ll want to build in time to read. But a word of caution: Please don’t frame it as something you “have” to do. It’s something you and your children “get” to do! More tips on how to talk to your child about reading here.
- Get comfy. Read on the couch, in a fort, in a tree, in the sunshine, in bed with a flashlight. More info on why location is so important here.
- Separate, if you think that is needed. This might be a great time to get everyone in their own room, especially if you’re spending a lot of time all together in your living room or kitchen right now.
- Read TO your children. Many parents feel that once kids are old enough to read independently, read aloud time ends. Simply not true. Here are just a few ways kids benefit from being read to:
- You are able to model strong fluency and reading with expression.
- You can clear up words they may have been reading incorrectly in their heads. I still remember the first time I realized that the word “hors d’oeuvres” was not pronounced “hours devours.”
- If your child is participating in eLearning, they will need to take regular breaks to give their eyes a rest. This is a great opportunity for that.
- Their teachers probably spend a portion of each day reading to them. By continuing this routine, you’re giving them a sense of normalcy in a time when we’re all craving that.
- Audio books can be game changers for your family right now. Listen to a book during chore time or arts and crafts time or while making lunch or dinner. Library closed? Download a book from one of the many apps so you can listen to your book instead. Bonus: many kids will especially love books that are read by the author.
- Trying to keep in touch with friends and family while social distancing? Schedule a FaceTime session where your child reads a chapter of a favorite book to a grandparent or cousin. And then perhaps the grandparent can read to them? What a perfect way to combine socializing and reading in a safe way.
- When you know better, you should do better, right? You know your kids need to see YOU reading, but let’s face it, the to-do list (or Netflix) can often get in the way. If you’re home right now, let yourself relax with that book you’ve been wanting to read for ages. Tips for eliminating distractions are here.
- Escaping the reality of our current situation is just a good idea. Put your phone in another room, keep the TV off, and let yourself be transported to a time and place where the words coronavirus and COVID-19 are nonexistent.
Your kids will be forever affected by this time in our lives. When their own children and grandchildren ask what they remember about it, make sure reading books is a part of their answer. This is a golden opportunity to shape your child into a lifelong, “real” reader.