Published On: Mon, Mar 3rd, 2014

Give Your Kids a Life Companion

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

So many adults and children seem tGive Your Kids A Life Companiono be struggling with depression and anxiety these days. In my early days of teaching 20 years ago, you certainly didn’t hear much about anxiety in kids. Twenty years later, I seem to be hearing about it often. Could it be that the lack of books in people’s lives are playing a role here? Surely not I hear you say. But books are a great escape. They allow us to become involved in someone else’s life. To forget about our own for a while. To take our cluttered brains to a place of imagination. They force us to sit, relax and take a physical break.

All children have the potential to enjoy reading if given the opportunity. Our job is to provide it. Don’t rely on your child’s teacher to do this, more than likely it’s not going to be enough. Remember, YOU are the most influential person in your child’s life.

So how can you get your kids interested in books?

    • Make reading part of your routine. It’s like creating any other normality in your children’s lives. If you want them to have healthy teeth you enforce brushing. If you want them to be well mannered you encourage please and thank you. Well the same goes for books. If you want your child to grow to read books then you must make it a part of your everyday now.
    • Find out what your kids are interested in. Don’t be too fussy with the reading material. Sure, who doesn’t want their child to read a storybook, but perhaps to get them reading they may prefer a magazine, comic book or even ebook. If these get the ball rolling then great, and continue to offer a variety of reading material. If your child refuses to read, read to them to help gain interest.
    • Create a beautiful space for your child’s books. I just want to look at those books on the shelf above simply because it looks nice. A special place preferably in the child’s room helps with ownership and to create a sense of pride and an understanding that books are important.
    • Never use reading as a punishment tool! I cannot emphasise this enough. You don’t want your child to associate books with negativity, discouraging them from wanting to read.
    • Praise reading efforts and ensure you show your kids how proud you are of them. If your child reaches a great achievement in reading such as finishing their first chapter book, celebrate with them!
    • Ensure the book is age appropriate. If you are unsure it’s better to go for a book that’s too easy rather than a challenge. This is especially the case for early readers. We don’t want to discourage reading from too a difficult reading experience. Reading feels good when it flows and will help your child to better understand and recall storyline if they don’t have to continually stop for tricky words.
    • Show interest. Ask your child to give you feedback about the story as they go. You know if you see a good movie or read a great book you like to tell people about it. Kids are the same. Talk about the book you’re reading. This prompts my daughter to ask me once in a while… “what’s happening in the story now mum”?
    • Your kids should see you reading just as they see you brush your teeth or clean the kitchen. You’re the role model here, so try to make it part of your routine as much as theirs.
    • Talk about what other family members are reading. Grandpa is reading a book about space. Grandma enjoys books about the garden. Ensure your kids know that reading is a normal part of everyday life. This will help them to eventually expect it of themselves.
    • My daughter likes to read out loud to me at the kitchen bench. My son prefers to read in his room. Grab that personal thing that your child enjoys when they read and allow them to do it. Avoid comments like “how can you read lying on the floor, that’s silly”! Everyone likes to arrange their own space to help them get into reading mode.
    • Visit the library as part of your regular family destinations.

I heard someone once say, “books are like companions, if you throw yourself into reading, you need never be alone”. With a little effort and thought, you too can give your kids this amazing gift, and a companion for life.

Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2014
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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