Reading To Older Kids
Does this parenting paradox seem familiar -
When you’re reading to your newborn, her only reaction to yours sincere reading attempts is an impatient wail or a few generous ounces of drool and you can’t wait for her to grow up a little so you can actually tell if she’s paying attention and comprehending. You may even picture getting her to interact and repeat phrases after you as a pre-schooler. But, by the time your child is older and capable of all of the above – it’s quite likely she’s also no longer a helpless newborn but a stubborn little imp in a hurry to grow up, make her own decisions and in no way interested in cuddling up with you and a book. Also? You may actually barely find the time to read to her uninterrupted, amidst school, karate, soccer practice, music lessons, temper tantrums, bedtime struggles and play dates. Reading to an active pre-schooler can be very enjoyable and rewarding - IF, like everything else, you can manage to squeeze it into your schedule and manage to wiggle out of her mood swings. Thankfully, this stage of parenting is as unpredictable and mind boggling as every other stage so far – so, you’re not likely to ever see a boring day. Keeping all the unpredictability and wonderful craziness in mind, here are some time tested tips – collected, compiled and currently being tested by yours truly, of course, with a 63.97% of success so far in making reading time appear out of thin air, with a pre schooler on the prowl for action.
How to Make Time to Read to Growing Baby:
* Make reading to your child a priority: Obvious isn’t it? The truth is none of us ever find the time to do everything we want. Not even super-moms and dads. But, guess what? We always manage time to do the things we really want to. Be it watching TV, posting Facebook updates, working out, gossipping with a friend over phone or even working two jobs. If it’s important to us – we make time appear. So, if you’re not finding enough time to read to your kids everyday, it just means that it does’t feature in your list of priorities. Happens in our house more times a week than I care to admit. Not a day goes by when I don’t cook, eat, catch up on emails or sleep. But quite a few of them slip by without me reading with my daughter – even though I count it among the most enoyable experiences. Why? Because, reading aloud obviously takes a back seat to those other activities, as much as I hate to say it. And so, unless I consciously make an effort to rectify the situation and tell myself that I can get to my emails or the kitchen sink after I’ve read to her and she’s in bed, I will most likley miss an opportunity to read to my baby. If this is happening to you, maybe it’s time to remind yourself of how important it is to read aloud to kids everyday. Put reading time in your daily calendar on on a sticky reminder on your fridge, anything to help you prioritize this priceless activity that you probably won’t have the opportunity to do everyday a few years down the line. The emails and gossip will still be there.
* Set aside smaller chunks of time: It’s fantastic if you can read 30 mins at a stretch every day as recommended. But, if you’re like most lesser mortals, juggling work, chores, grocery shopping, cooking, arguments, your other kids, spouse and your own exhaustion every day – you probably don’t get the fantasy 30 min chunk every day or even once a week. That shouldn’t stop you however. Nobody said that you couldn’t read for a shorter duration if that’s all you have. How about reading for 5 minutes everyday as soon as you’ve given your child a bath? And then 10 mins before bed time. Maybe 5 minutes at the dinner table after everyone’s finished eating. Breaking up reading time into smaller chunks helps you get in more book time, without making it seem overwhelming or impossible to accomodate into your schedule. You might also notice that your pre schooler is more alert and attentive.
* Use any available opportuntiy, anywhere: You know that perfect moment…when all your chores are done, your house is spotless, your kids have finished homework, brushed their teeth and are in bed 30 mins early, waiting for you to read? Probably not going to happen unless you’re in a 50′s movie. Does this mean we can never find the perfect opportunity to read to our kids? Not necessarily. Here’s the good thing about reading – any time, any place is perfect for sharing books in some way. Be it while waiting in line somewhere or when you’re doing laundry or are on an airplane – any time when your hands, eyes and mind are free for a few minutes – is a perfect time to read aloud. Even if you get through only one paragraph or page, it’s still time well spent. It may be your best shot at perfection and it’s not too bad.
* Use audio help: Who says you have to do all the reading? Audio books and CDs that accompany books make acceptable subsititues for a parent reading aloud on occasions that you just can’t make it. They’re perfect to engage kids in a car or when you’re on a trip away from your kids, or when you have a deadline looming and can’t fit reading to your child into your schedule. Stock up on a few of these to use sparingly on days like these.
* Read from memory: And who says you actually have to have a book to read? When you’re stuck in traffic or are waiting in line, try recollecting the lines from a book you read recently..enlist your kids’ help - you’d be surprised how much they remember. Even if you don’t rememeber every line, together, I bet you’ll be able to recall most of the pages from a book if you’ve read it a handful of times.
* Take reading baths, drives, walks: Reading to kids doesn’t always have to be an exclusive activity. Combine it something you do everyday anyway. Have a stash of books readily available in the bathroom, car, near the front door, in your bag. If you’re not the one doing the driving, why not spend the few minutes enroute to school or the grocery store reading to your child? Read from a favorite book while your preschooler splashes around in the tub. Turn any and every opportunity into a reading opportunity.
* Talk about books: When you’re not reading, talk about what you’re reading. Discuss the books you’ve read recently or something you came across or a book that you plan to check out from the library soon. Has a book recently won an award? Was a children’s book author mentioned in the newspaper? Is there a book signing happening in your neighborhood? What did you think of a particular character in a book you read recently? Reinforce your child’s love of and interest in reading by talking about books.
* Think ‘Beyond Books’ -maps sign boards, greeting cards etc: If it seems hard to hold your pre schooler’s interest merely with books, mix it up a little. Fish out an old atlas, maps, greeting cards, comic books, magazines, CD or DVD covers and start reading. Point out billboards, road and retail signs while driving. It helps to remember that reading is more than putting together words and sounding out alphabets. Funny how making connections with the printed world expands our horizons beyond them.
Is sharing books with your older child becoming a challenge? How are you dealing with it?
Treat your teeny Valentines to sweet and silly stories!
Here’s wishing you a Happy Reading Weekend,