As parents, we all wish we had more time to read to our kids. And we’re equally aware of how the rush of school, work and other family activities can crowd out those slow, quiet times necessary for nurturing our child’s love of books. As the father of three active children, it seems my wife and I never have enough of the “lap time” Emilie Buchwald refers to.
“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”
~ Emilie Buchwald, award-winning children’s novelist
So what’s a busy family to do when the lap time gets crowded out? Is it possible to nurture your child’s love of reading and maintain the pace of modern family life? How does your family find time for literacy in a Blackberry-paced world?
Here are some literacy tips for early readers:
- Point out print in the child’s environment – on cereal boxes, food labels, toys, restaurants and traffic signs. Sing songs, say short poems or nursery rhymes and play rhyming word games with your child.
- Read a short passage several times to your child until he or she can read it with you. Then encourage your child to read the passage to you.
- Encourage older children to read with younger children.
- Encourage your child to read (or pretend read) to you. Make this reading enjoyable. Don’t worry if your child does not read all of the words correctly but, rather, applaud your child’s efforts to read.
- Have books, magazines and newspapers around the house. Let your child see you reading.
- Encourage your child to write messages such as grocery lists, to-do lists, post cards, etc. He or she also could write short messages to family members or friends. Don’t worry about conventional spelling at this point but, rather, encourage your child’s first efforts at authorship.
Parents, what do you think? Post a comment and share your early reader successes!
Aaron is a child and family therapist at Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin specializing in trauma counseling. He has experience working with clients who are coping with depression, anxiety, divorce, and family and community violence. He is a certified practitioner of EMDR, and uses expressive modalities such as play therapy, bibliotherapy and music and art-based therapies with a wide range of clients.
Aaron is also a current partner with Project Ujima, a hospital-based program committed to helping families cope with community violence. He uses Hip Hop Music Therapy with many of his urban adolescent clients through their community outreach program.
Read more blog posts by Aaron Heffernan.