My eldest daughter is now drawing closer to her seventh birthday and reads confidently in English, relatively well in French and budding in Spanish. Both Dad and I are pleased with her literacy skills in her three languages, however we do not want her to feel it is always about work, work, work (though the truth is that it always is!). My eldest is no book worm and only cares about playing and having fun. Though she enjoys reading -especially in English as she is confident in it, she does not yet associate sitting down with a good book to that fun she craves for.
In education in general, we often hear how parents are to lead by example. For instance, if you want your child to read, let them see you read. We do do it whenever we can, but with a 3-year-old around, we sometimes find this very challenging. She requests our attention most of the time, and when she does not she plays with her sister, who probably does not really note us reading and is kept from reading by their playing together.
The idea crept in my mind to create something similar to our Weekly Family Board Game Night, and to set up a quiet weekly family time dedicated to reading together. We worked out that Tuesdays would work best for us, as there is no school the following day, enabling our eldest to lie in. Our little one still naps in the afternoons, so the lucky girl always gets catch-up time. 🙂
We get our girls ready for bed but before actually going to bed, we have them join us in the living room. We all pick a book we fancy to read and each grab a seat.
For our youngest, who is not yet a reader, we have thought of having her going round, changing reader with each book. A nice way to bond and snuggle up, as well as a way to keep her attention to avoid her becoming distracting for the other readers. So far, she has chosen to stick to Daddy, so sadly Daddy’s own personal reading went out the window. But this is a very recent project, which needs maturing, through trial and error. The easy option was having my youngest go to sleep as usual and not spending that reading time with us. Yet it felt unfair to her and also defeats the purpose of such event, which is to promote the love for independent reading. Maybe overtime, she will accept to change reader and even “read” a little on her own. Time will tell.
In any case, everybody seems delighted with our Family Reading Time so far. My eldest runs off to pick a favourite book of hers, us parents are delighted to get a chance to do a little personal reading or do a little snuggly, quiet reading-aloud (so as not to bother the other readers) to the little one.
- Get the bedtime routine (brushing of teeth, pyjamas, etc…) over and done with before the actual reading. This helps to keep the stress levels down. If you leave it to after the reading, likelihood is that throughout the reading you will be keeping an eye on the time to check out what is the right break-up time so there is still enough time to get the bedtime routine done. And it will probably get stressful because you will end up rushing them so as not to get them to bed too late. A definite spoiler for the Family Reading Time magic. If you have them get ready beforehand with the treat of the reading in perspective, they will probably hurry a little more in getting through their routine.
- A Family Reading Time can work any time you want. We chose an evening, but if an afternoon or morning time works better for you, go for it! The most important is the end result: getting the child hungry for reading 🙂
- Make it cosy – Nothing is more appealing than a nice warm cover in winter or comfy cushions. And depending on your time of the day for this Family Reading Time, why not a hot drink treat?