How Do You Fit Reading Into Busy Family Life?
We know reading is key to learning, right? But we’re so busy, how on earth do we fit in all that reading?!
As a Mum of 3 children, I know that it’s easy to feel that your child is getting left behind with their reading. I also know that there are not enough hours in the day to ensure everyone gets read to or with. Let’s be honest it’s very hard to actually do the 20 minutes reading every evening, with every child! After school activities, work, making dinner, laundry and sibling demands it can make it simply impossible a lot of the time.
What I’ve learnt is that learning to read isn’t a race. Children get there, but all at different speeds and sometimes in different ways. And that’s OK!! As a parent, learning to cut corners and improvise is part of the job, right?
Here are my top tips to get all that reading in:
Carry a book around with you everywhere. When you are waiting somewhere and boredom has set in – a book is a good distraction. I usually target this book just above the ability of my middle boy (4 years). My 2 year old looks at the pictures and hears the rich vocabulary as well as the patterns of speech. Then I differentiate questions for my eldest and middle about the text as we read. Job done.
Poems are great. They’re simple, quick and memorable and above all ACHIEVABLE. Poetry is a big part of the curriculum and there are always SATs questions about poems. They’re such nice little bite sized chunks so many children find them easy to memorise and repeat. The rhymes support phonics, spelling and reading nicely. Performance develops confidence and expression and emotional understanding. Plus they’re often funny. Our favourite Micheal Rosen’s Chocolate Cake.
Audio books. OK, its not reading. They are not decoding text but its not a cop out. Anyway, its proven that reading delay is generally caused by a delay in language comprehension, not decoding. Children usually understand at a MUCH higher level than they can read, so this way when they listen they are exposed to more advance structures of narrative and vocabulary. If like me, you have a wriggly child, listening to an audio story is calming and I find my son can concentrate for an extended period and doesn’t want to interrupt all the time, as he would if I were reading. Stick audio stories on in the car, on Alexa, on tablet. Job done. We use Story Nory podcasts.
All hail the toilet book! A bit gross and germy I know but I’m happy to take that risk. As Mums, we obviously don’t have time to sit on the toilet for ages but children do and if your child has a (often male) toilet reader role model they too will do the same. A long toilet session is a common thing in our house and a few subtly placed books turns it into an independent reading session Yay!
Read everything. Words are everywhere. Cereal boxes, magazines, subtitles, recipe instructions, signs, menus, puzzles, competitions. Write a shopping list together and read it back. In the supermarket point out words, play dumb – oh which aisle is the sugar? This way they need to be active and look for words in their environment, not passively mope their way around the supermarket. It might not seem much reading at the time but it ALL ADDS UP!
Roll with their interests. Your children will guide you, let them take the lead. This way they are less likely to need you sitting with them. Reading apps and graphic novels are both things for us at the moment. My eldest is enjoying Planets vs Zombies graphic Novels. He’s practically eating them up and is keen to read aloud to his brother! Win! One book takes him 40 minutes. Zombie heads popping off left right and centre may not exactly be my choice in a book but he loves its and, hey, he’s reading for 40 minutes without making a fuss, as well as engaging his brother. And there’s one helluva lot I can get done in that time!