The range of devices that demand the attention of our kids seems to be without end. There are smartphones, TVs, tablets, games consoles, PC’s, etc, etc, etc. There is very rarely a moment when images generated by one device or another aren’t flashing in front of our tired eyes.
For parents who hope their children will become avid readers, the use of electronic devices can pose a real threat. Watching the box or scrolling through endless social media trivia has become the preferred option for our kids.
But thankfully there is another way. I have put a list of suggestions together that will help you get your children away from the dreaded screens to the sanctuary of books.
1. Read to Your ChildrenBack to Top
Being read to or reading from an early age is a great way to prevent a later addiction to screens AND it is never too early to start. Your child doesn’t have to be walking and talking to benefit from hearing you read stories and be comforted by the sound of your voice. Research shows that the more words an infant is exposed to, the greater the impact it will have on their literacy and language development.
It is also crucial to keep reading to your kids as they get older too. Try to designate at least 20 minutes a day to reading together. You can snuggle up on the sofa and read to your child. For most parents’ bedtime is the natural reading time, however it should also be encouraged during the day as an enjoyable and fun activity.
If you work late or have a MindMe.ie date night organised, ask your babysitter to read to your children so they still have their reading time.
2. Do as I doBack to Top
It's unrealistic to expect your kids to keep their heads buried in books if they never see you reading yourself. Instead of always having a phone in your hand while you walk around your home, change it for a book or newspaper.
If you only read in the confines of your bedroom before you go to sleep, your children won’t see you reading often enough and therefore won’t copy your behaviour. Reading while your children are present should be the norm, reading is then seen as a comforting activity and not a chore and sends the right message.
3. A trip to the libraryBack to Top
Make the most of your local library. Once you get an idea for the sort of books that your child most enjoys, make a list of titles and authors and bring it to the library with you. Finding books with your child can become a great adventure.
Libraries throughout Ireland quite often have storytelling sessions for children. The sessions are a great way to get your child enthralled and encouraged to read. Also, your local librarian can provide a recommended list of age appropriate children’s books. In time they can watch their list of book titles grow with a sense of achievement.
4. Make it funBack to Top
Insisting or pushing your child to read a specific book is not a good way to encourage your child’s love of reading. The love of books must be organic. Many parents also become agitated when their child wants to reread the same book over and over but there is nothing to worry about. It is perfectly normal, and they will move on to the next book when they are ready to do so.
5. Storytelling Back to Top
Chat about what you are reading as part of the normal family discussion. Dinner is normally the most suitable time for this. You can ask your child about the book they are reading, even if you have already read the story with them. Allow them the time to tell you about the storyline with as all its twists and turns. This will help to create a sense of excitement around the great Irish tradition of storytelling.
6. Monitor Online TimeBack to Top
It is very important to have daily ‘device-free’ time in your family’s routine. Say no to phones during dinner and reading time. This will allow your family the time to communicate with each other and talk about what you are reading. It will also give your children valuable reading time before or after lunch or dinner.
It is also advisable to locate the TV and computer in a shared open space of your home so you can easily monitor what your kids are viewing online.