Three ways to keep your child reading over the winter break.

As a parent of three kids, I know that keeping them reading over the winter break can be challenging.  As a reading specialist, the thought of my students not reading for two weeks makes me cringe, and believe me I know when my students haven’t read over the winter break.  So, I’ve come up with three things that can help parents keep their kids reading…

Winter holidays are about being with friends and family.   One of the best ways to ensure your child is reading over the break is to make it a family event.  And remember, reading doesn’t have to happen for hours on end.   Even if you’re not an avid reader, these tips will help you, help your kids.

Make it a known expectation:   Explain to your kids ahead of time that everyone will be reading over the holidays.   I’ve heard from several parents that the Sunday before school starts back up is often a day of realizations…one being that the holidays are over and their kids didn’t do any reading.  Making reading a known expectation, talking about it before the holidays arrive, will help ensure it happens.  Discuss it ahead of time and create a plan that you execute.

Choose a special book to read during the holidays, ahead of time:  Usually the winter break is about two weeks long.  Start discussing with your kids the type of book they’d like to read over the break, before the break begins.  Since this time usually means a reprieve from homework and school books, make this a time to choose a special book, something different from what they usually read.  During this time they could read a holiday story or try a new author.  Discuss books and find out what types of books they like to read.  It doesn’t matter if they are in first grade or twelfth grade, talking about books and letting your kids see that you take an interest in reading, will help them establish good reading habits.  If you’re unsure of your child’s reading level use the Five Finger Rule to help with choosing a “good fit” book. 

Set aside some time and make it a family thing:  Sit down and read together.  It doesn’t matter if you’re reading a book, a magazine, or the newspaper.  Kids will be more likely to read if everyone in the family is reading, and remember, you don’t have to read for hours at a time.  Twenty minutes of reading for kids in early elementary school, is just fine.  If you have a preschooler, this is the time to start instilling some good reading habits.  Looking through a picture book or having a family member read to them is still considered reading.   As a family, talk about when you’re going to read together, and make it a plan you keep. 

One of the biggest mistakes a parent can make when it comes to their child’s reading is to send them off to bed to read, alone.  I’m not saying that reading before bed is a bad thing but it shouldn’t be the only time the child reads.   When early reading habits are being established it is important for children to see that reading is valued.  In addition to ways the mentioned above, you can also show your child that reading is important by reading with them.  Listen to them read and talk about their reading.   Read to them and ask them to “read it like me”, to model and practice what good reading sounds like.

Most of all make it a happy time and not “work”.  Happy Holiday’s!!!

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