Reading Rule 9

9. Make reading routine.

Does your child play a musical instrument? How often do they practise? Do they play a sport? How often is training? Music and sport are activities that most children take part in and one thing they have in common is that they both require practice.

Reading is somewhat similar. In the early years, it does indeed require practice which is why children have home readers and parents are expected to listen to their children read every night.

But when children become independent readers, many parents think “job done”. This is not the case. Children’s reading needs encouraging and nurturing, and it requires parental involvement long after children are reading independently. Reading needs to become a part of your child’s everyday routine.

The most convenient time to read is probably bedtime. When children are little, this is when most of us read stories to them. As they get older and can read independently, there is no need to stop this ritual. This is a great time to read aloud to your children (Rule no.3). Just make sure you always stop at an exciting point in the story, and your child will want to continue on with their own independent reading.

The most important thing is to make this time a regular occurrence. If bedtime is 8.30p.m in your house, try making it 8.00p.m instead. This leaves half an hour for reading time before lights out. If you have followed all the rules up to this point, you will find that your child is quite happy to have this reading time. In fact, half an hour may not be enough and you will often become engaged in heated debates at 8.30p.m when you say ‘lights out” and they say “just one more paragraph/page/chapter please!”

The main thing is to make reading a part of your daily routine. It should be an expectation and be a part of family life. The other important part of this rule is that when it is reading time, it is “no screen” time. Unless the reading material is an e-book, all devices (mobiles, laptops, i-touch etc) should be off so that the reading time is an uninterrupted, sustained period of interaction with the written word.

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