We all know reading to our kids is a great idea, because it helps to increase their vocabulary and makes their brains bigger, and it helps them with school. We all want the best for our kids and we all want to give them a great start to life.
The big problem is how do you fit it in to your daily life? How do you corral your child and make them sit still long enough for you to read a book to them?
Here are our top 10 tips for adding reading to your daily routine and making it enjoyable for everyone.
1. Cuddle on the couch and share a story together
Have you had those wet, windy, cold winter days where you are stuck inside and looking for something to entertain the kids? Get a warm, cosy blanket and cuddle up together on the couch with a hot chocolate and read stories together. What about those sweltering summer days when it’s too hot to go outside? How about getting an ice cream and swap the couch for a paddling pool and reading a book about summer and swimming?
2. Talking about water, try reading while the kids are having a bath
While they are busy washing and playing, read a book to them and let them listen as they play. Or perhaps even look for some plastic water resistant books they can look through themselves while in the water. You can read stories about mermaids and sea monsters or beach fun and pretend to be different characters. Your kids can pretend to be a superhero like Aquaman or The Little Mermaid while you tell stories.
3. Make up a story in the car
End the constant sound of “are we there yet?” and make up a story while you are driving along. Make up a story about the cars you see or the people that you pass. You can take it in turns adding to the story or try the game of one sentence at a time. Can you remember the last story that you read, who were the characters and what did they do? Think about your favourite story book and think what they would be doing if they were in the car with you.
4. Sing nursery rhymes wherever you are
There are books, apps, YouTube videos and websites all devoted to nursery rhymes. Look them up and as you walk to child care, kindy or school sing your favourites. You can always go to the library and find the books and read the book and sing at the same time. If you are looking for inspiration close at hand while you are making dinner make up songs about Galumph Went The Little Green Frog One Day, or 5 little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed, one fell off and bumped his head. Rhymes help your child hear sounds in words which gets them ready for reading and writing later on.
5. Read a story about nature and collect nature items in the park
Connect your story to your neighbourhood and home. If you have a neighbourhood pool then read stories about pools next time you have a day out. If you have a local park find books that are about parks and collect nature items or find a book about insects and animals at the park and go hunting to see what you can find. Connecting kids to nature helps them learn about the environment.
6. Before bed each night, let your kids look at books to wind down
Have your child turn off electrical devices and read for a set amount of time before bed. They can look at the pictures and sing the nursery rhymes they know. You can set a countdown timer to let them know they have a certain amount of time before it is lights out. It’s a great routine to create that can last a lifetime.
7. Each night share a book together in bed
Add it to your bedtime routine and spend the last 10 minutes of the day reading a story while your child is all tucked up in bed. You can read books that will help them have happy and peaceful dreams. There are also books that help kids visualise and begin the fundamentals of meditation, there are apps and story books you could find at the library. A relaxing read is a lovely way to end a busy day.
8. Kids imitate adults
Add reading to your own routine because kids copy adults. If you are sitting quietly and reading (with the television off), your child will be more inclined to grab their own book and join you for quiet reading time. They may climb onto your lap and ask you to read to them. Try it and see.
9. Share stories of the books you have read
Tell your kids about your favourite childhood books and what you are reading now. Tell them what you like and what you don’t like. Tell them about the characters you are meeting and the places you are visiting in your imagination. Tell them about your favourite story and why it is your favourite. Let them share their stories and actively listen to them as they talk about their books. Spend time in the library looking up topics that you both enjoy. Find books to read alone and books to share together.
10. Keep a notebook with a list of all the books you have read as a family
Look back through the notebook and remember the stories and characters of the book. If you loved the book read it again together and talk about things that you noticed this time that you didn’t notice before.
Families living in or adjacent to the South Australian suburbs of Mansfield Park, Ferryden Park, Woodville Gardens, Angle Park, Davoren Park, Parafield Gardens, Paralowie, Salisbury or Salisbury North with kids who are starting kindergarten this year may want to check out our HIPPY programme, created to support parents in their homes with activities and information to help their preschool kids.