Spring Break is nearly here for most schools, and parents may want a few tips to help keep their children engaged with reading during that time. Dr. Steve Truch, Director of The Reading Foundation clinic in Calgary, offers the following suggestions:
1. For parents whose children already love to read, it's usually simply a matter of encouraging them to keep doing so. Good readers find both the time and resources (books, magazines and other print media) to keep themselves engaged with the process--parents just need to keep a supply of print materials ready for them.
2. Visit the local library. Set an example, if you haven't already done so, of visiting the library and checking out books on a regular basis for yourself and your children. For Spring Break, check out an extra supply to keep them occupied.
3. Read with and to your children on a regular basis. When reading stories to them, keep them engaged by taking on distinct voices for different characters, asking them questions, getting them to summarize what's happened to that point and getting them to predict what they think will happen next. Be sure to discuss vocabulary and unknown terms or idioms with your children, too. Fifteen minutes per night is likely a sufficient amount of time to read to them, but some kids will want more.
4. Encourage children to visualize while listening (or reading to themselves). A more specific instruction for this purpose is to tell them to "make a picture in your head, as if you are watching television." This kind of encouragement is particularly useful, research tells us, for the early years (up to about Grade 4 in particular).
5. Limit the amount of time they can have on electronic tablets, phones, etc. Electronics are wonderful, and they certainly have a place in our children's lives, but they are also very addictive and can quickly take over most of a child's time, robbing them of other activities they need, especially for movement. For that reason alone, encouraging outside play time is a very good thing. Be creative. Create some outdoor (or indoor) obstacle courses, scavenger hunts and even engage children in plain old hopscotch and jump rope.
6. For reluctant readers, many of the above suggestions still apply. However, don't force them to read (practice) just because you've been told by a teacher that they should do so over the break. If they don't fight you on this, it is likely fine. However, if they don't want to read and kick up a big fuss when you tell them it's reading time, that is generally a significant red flag that something is not right for them with the process. If this is the case, you may need to resort to professional help to assist your child in building their literacy skills.
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