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Inculcate Reading Habits in Children
Books are the quietest and most constant friends; They are the most accessible and knowledgeable of counselors and the most tolerant of teachers. ~ Charles W. Eliot
Charles Eliot had his facts. One who has made friends with the written word will never be lonely. All book lovers know that they can live multiple lives, travel to countless places, and do countless things with their books. You get to see another person’s perspective and discover that you are not an absolute authority on the subject.
Today our living room has been invaded by television and computer. Children spend all their free time glued to one of them.
Books teach children a lot. They expand their vocabulary, helping them later in life. The command of the language increases manifold. It stimulates the child’s imagination, allows the mind to reach the unimaginable and enhances creativity. Reading about many things greatly improves children’s knowledge base. For example, say you want to learn more about Africa but read an interesting story rather than dry course books.
Parents, frustrated, try to introduce them to the wonderful world of books. However, all is not lost with the pretense of common sense, a little patience and loving parents can instill good reading habits in their children.
Set aside time for reading
Set aside about half an hour as reading time every day. This can be before bedtime or any time that suits both. In the beginning, let them read the books you mentioned as children. The story line will be familiar and it will be easy for them to pick out the words.
Interest in books cannot be developed overnight. It is a slow process where a child learns to fall in love with the enchanted world of the written world. If the habit of reading is inculcated early, the habit will gradually develop as the child grows. Parents should start as soon as the child can understand. Read a story to your two-year-old. Gradually stop telling this story in story reading.
Parents should be realistic in their expectations. Don’t think that a child will jump into reading the first time they pick up a book. At first they may make a mistake in pronunciation. Correct them gently. They can read an entire page without understanding a single word. Make their brain work by explaining the whole book to them. Ask simple questions about the story. Eventually they will get the hang of deciphering the books.
It is very important to teach children by example. Make sure children can see you reading. If you read books, your children will automatically do the same. It is very difficult to convince a child to read a lot if the parents do not pick up the book. Not only will it inspire, but kids will have a lot of fun reading it together.
Get books on topics of interest
If the child is a big Pooh fan, get some books on the character. The market is flooded with various things related to cartoons. Do a little market survey and get books of a specific character. Make sure the books are colorful and picturesque. The print should be large as small print can be boring to read. Check out the books before buying. The words should be at a level that your child can understand. Books that are too easy or too difficult distract children.
There are many helpful aids that parents can use to encourage reading. Set up a bulletin board and put cartoons on it with funny comments. Pin a short limerick or poem on it for your child to read. You can also get audio book sets. It consists of a tape-recorded story along with a printed book. Children can understand the nuances of pronunciation while reading. Keep notes in tiffin box. Get vocabulary building games on computer.
Universal Reading Time
Don’t restrict reading to the confines of your room. Make use of the abundance of words floating around you. Point out the words on the billboards along the way. Ask the child to read the credits on the movie poster. Reciting newspaper headlines is a good way to learn. While you wait for the doctor to arrive, they can read the pamphlets. At a restaurant, let them read the menu and decide on the order. Ask them to decipher the instructions on the new game.
Try it all in a very casual way. If a child feels that she is being pushed towards reading, she will stop like a stubborn horse. All this should sound like a very interesting game. Remember Tom Sawyer! For example, while waiting for the doctor, don’t push the pamphlet into the children’s hands and order her to read it too. Instead, say, very, very casually (bored voice required), “This pamphlet contains four words beginning with ch.” Immediately the child will try to find the facts for himself and find some more words to boot.
These techniques are just general aids to help children read more. As a parent you have to show enthusiasm for their new venture. When there is a mistake, gently correct them. Show enthusiasm and appreciation when the child wants to read. Buying books as gifts and incentives is a good idea. Discuss the book the child has just read. Talk about her favorite character in the book. If a particular book has been made into a movie, take her to it.
Don’t force, guide. When a child learns that she wants to read, it becomes another subject of study, a boring chore. Reading should be introduced as a pleasurable pastime and not as a harsh punishment.
So, go ahead, introduce your kids to the written word and they’ll never be alone again.
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