It’s a world of smart media. You could call it the world of ,er – distractions, but one has to choose one’s words wisely. Your toddler just grabbed that you bought(weeks ago) and is peering into those lovely colourful pictures. You are elated. Ain’t he the little Einstein? Your mind’s drumming up images of how you would raise a book lover – the sensitive, all-knowing, empathetic man/woman — until it’s interrupted by a …. jingle. That’s your phone in his hand. Wait a minute. Where’s the book? Most probably, somewhere between his pile of toys and the laundry.
There’s dancing lights and peppy music. Then there’s Youtube and animated ‘learning’ apps. Then there’s T.V. Then there’s video games, iPads and tablets, “kid-friendly” tablets, blaring “educational” toys.
Seriously, you think that book’s got a chance?
If you are wondering why it is important for the kid to grab the book instead of the iPad, there’s plenty of reasons (Perhaps, another post?)
One of the most important reasons to raise a book lover is that it makes it dead easy to focus on one task for a few minutes at a time( which is getting increasing difficult!)
And then, it also improves cognitive function in the child’s brain, regulates emotions, helps social behaviour, improves confidence, increases family bonding and finally- it is simply fun!
So stop blaming the distractions, the kid or even yourself!
And do these instead to raise a book lover!
1. Read yourself to raise a book lover.
Yes. Read, please! According to this Forbes report, the top reason that kids don’t read today is that parents don’t read. Kids learn everything from watching you and that includes reading.
Children don’t read because parents don’t read! It’s that simple!
2. Make it Easy.
If you are on a diet, what is the most sensible thing to do? Keep your fruits and veggies within reach and hide that blueberry muffin.
The same goes for a child. Make it easy for them to grab a book. Put a book basket together with his favourite books and place it in the middle of the living room or his play den or even his bed. Figure out the best location in your house. And yes, remove all gadgets from the basket’s vicinity. If need be, let them be bored!
3. ‘Picture’ it up.[Tweet “If your child can read only pictures and not words, that’s still reading.”]
Don’t we all read visual cues all the time? That smirk on your colleagues face ? That painting that ‘spoke’ to you?
Don’t get disheartened when your child focuses on the pictures and forgets to spell the words. Looking at pictures and figuring out the information or the story is also reading. This article beautifully explains how reading pictures is one of the most fundamental ways to store information in the brain. Make the most of it and use the illustrations to tell a story. Show your child that if one cannot read the words, one can still read the pictures and that is reading.
4. Say it Aloud.
Make reading the most appealing activity by reading everyday.Interact during read-alouds and book conversations. Reading to your child develops empathetic roots in them, improves cognitive function ,increases vocabulary. Plus, if your guilt bugs are gnawing at you( believe it or not, women are fantastic at feeling guilt); this is super-engaging way to shake them off!
5. Create Your Own.
Make a holiday journal using illustrations done by your children. It is a great way of preserving a beautiful memory. Stick photos of your time together to add more pages. Use the holiday journal to tell a story about your holiday. Learning to narrate a story is a wonderful skill to possess.
Many families involve their children in cooking or baking food items. Make a book about steps in making something. Your children will connect deeply with books and the power of ownership over books that they have participated in creating, is immense.
6. It doesn’t even have to be books.
Join your child in his/her play and bring the toys alive by making up stories about them. You are building their skills of narration. Its a great way to create settings for stories and characters -in an informal way!
7. It’s all about connections.
If you have just spent a holiday at the beach, pick up a book about beaches or sea animals. If your boy just had a bad day in school, pick up a story about another boy and his own conflicts. If grandma’s visiting; well, then just pick up “grandma tales”. Bottom line- weave in familiarity.
8. It’s all in the name.
Nothing else can be more significant than one’s own name. Make name cards of all family members and play a matching game with photos of the family members. Your child in becoming familiar with print and not only learning to recognise his/her name but also learning that letters that make up a name look different from one another. Some are tall, some are rounded, while some others have a hanging tail…..they all have different shapes.
9. Draw and scribble.
Set up an invitational table/space with crayons, markers and paints. Encourage your child to draw and express their thoughts and emotions. Get them to tell you about their drawings.You may scribe for them. Revisit their drawings and read the stories they told. It instills confidence in children to express freely. Their appreciation and enjoyment of print will grow with time.
10. Help them say it.
The reverse of the above activity also helps a great deal. When children are young, they suffer inability to express their ideas along with asynchronous motor development. Allow them to express what they want and put together a drawing for them. When they see their thoughts and words come alive, it can do wonders to their vocabulary skills- not to mention their confidence!
About the Author:
Radha Shivkumar is an early childhood educator with teaching experience in international schools in Vietnam and the American School of Bombay, in Mumbai, India. After 24 years of being a classroom teacher, very recently, Radha shifted gears to assume the role of an educational consultant. In her new avatar, she is hoping to add value to early childhood curriculum and teaching practices by mentoring, coaching and conducting workshops for teachers. She also supports schools in designing curriculum to best meet the needs of the 21st century learner. Over the many years of teaching, she has had many insights, deep reflections and numerous aha moments around how young children learn and develop. Through this blog, she hopes to share those for the benefit of parents of young children.