In today’s hectic lifestyle, we are often running after time, trying to cram a lot of our to-do list in just 24 hours. We sometimes struggle to find the time to read to our child beyond the traditional bedtime story. And yet, if for a monolingual child exposure to reading is important, for a bilingual child it is twice as crucial.
It is sometimes difficult to step back and see where else we could find the time for an extra story. So here are a few time, place and strategy tips to explore:
1. Breakfast time – Children like taking their time in the morning, and being read a book or just a couple of pages (see below) certainly makes them feel relaxed. After all, how many adults like to read their paper in the morning? Well children ain’t that different.
Extra tip: if you can, try to start your own breakfast 5 minutes before your children’s so you can finish before them and read without a mouthful.
2. Snack time – After all the studying or playing, children appreciate to take a break and eat. Reading can be made part of this chilling out routine.
3. Dinner time – If you make your children dine before you, why not accompany their dinner with a little reading? My daughters systematically demand it, and there is no refusing it!
4. Commuting to school – For parents of children schooled far from home, public transports can be an additional opportunity for a little reading. Don’t we adults usually do so on our own way to work?
5. On the loo! – Now that might seem like a very unusual place but a couple of bilingual mums have shared with me that they sit behind the bathroom door, reading aloud to their children. With hindsight, it does not seem such an unusual place after all, since grown ups to take some reading with them too!
6. During playtime – We parents are not always synchronised with our children, and we might have a spare moment when they are playing. If you are feeling tired and not in the mood for joining in, why not sit by them and read aloud as they keep on playing? It is not much different from when they listen to an audiobook as they play. And the bonus is having your presence and your voice!
7. Break down the reading – If you find it difficult to read through a whole book, why not read just a couple of pages? For younger children, get them a pretty customised bookmark child, teach them its use, and let them learn the notion of waiting and patience (a concept a lot of kids desperately struggle to develop! lol). Breaking down the reading can also be done with slightly more advanced books with fewer pictures (e.g Enid Blyton books) might also help.
8. Rely on others – When you are lucky enough not to be the only minority language speaker at home, why not rely on another family member (other parent, older sibling) or the minority language baby-sitter/nanny to give a hand in the reading input?
Do you have any other tips to share? Feel free to add it by leaving a comment!