How do I get my child to read?

We all know the benefits of reading. However, it can be difficult to encourage our children to read.

Alternatively, it might be that your child IS an avid reader, but they are still not doing well in English, which leads to frustration, as you and your child do not understand why.

The reason is that your child is not being exposed to a wide range of genres. Without this, they will not master different writing styles; they will not develop their appreciation of different perspectives, and they do not have access to a wide variety of language.

This is why creating an environment that develops your child’s English skills is vital.

I was reading some interesting research on babies in the womb. It stated that the aminiotic fluid changes according to what the mother eats, which means when the developing baby is able to take in aminiotic fluid it is able to taste and experience different flavours. Consequently, the more diverse foods the mother ate, the more likely her baby would be less fussy, as they were already exposed to a variety of foods.

And this is the same for our children’s reading habits. We need to create an environment by which they are exposed to a variety of texts in order to help them to develop their critical understanding of different ideas.

So what can you do to help your child?

Whether they are an avid reader (or not), there are a few things you can do as a parent to support your child.

  1. Minimise push back by using the online reading resources in this blog rather than forcing your child/teen to go to the library or book shop.
  2. Set realistic goals – your child does not have to read an entire book; they can just read a few chapters; or, some of the samples in the reading tools.
  3. Read with them! Regardless of their age, you can read with them. This could be physically reading together; or, it could be reading the same sample/chapter. This is crucial because it allows you to discuss the text with your child, thus developing their critical reading skills. It also makes it more enjoyable.

What questions should I ask my child about their reading?

You can ask your child general and specific questions. Do not worry about your own level of English. Many parents fear that their own English is ‘not good’, and so feel they cannot discuss texts with their child. This is not the case.

The reality is that by you asking questions, and showing an interset, it will significantly help and motivate your child.

Here is a list of some of the questions you can ask:

  • Did you like/dislike the text? What was it you liked/disliked?
  • What did you think about the characters?
  • Were there any moments that stood out to you?
  • Did the text remind you of anything else you’ve read/watched?
  • What themes/ideas do you think the writer was exploring?
  • Were there any bits of language that especially interested you?

Do not feel disheartened if your child/teen does not initially respond to the questions. It takes time to develop new habits.

Remember, you take the lead by offering your opinion on the above questions; this, in turn, may inspire your child/teen.