by Wong Kin Leong
Often have I heard parents complain about their child’s lack of reading story books. In Singapore, this is made worse with electronics like games and smartphones becoming a staple in everyday activities of our children. Texting and all that distraction becomes the scourge of the millennium to some parents. Made worse with social media and the need for kids to fit in with their peers.
So how do we change the tides and make the kids read?
reading as enjoyment
First and foremost, reading has to be enjoyable to our children. It has to be fun, and definitely a million miles away from being a chore. That is the key to starting them on the right path. So let’s see what we can do to make this fun.
information information information
Children are naturally inquisitive. They crave information of the world they are in. They are natural learners and if you can light the spark of curiosity, they will carry that spark and more often then not, you will not need to do anymore from then on. One way I create curiosity in my students are to tell them stories. Stories of great people like Julius Caeser and how he is forever remembered in our month July named after him. Stories of how our forefathers struggles lead us to where we are today. Make sure its fun, and something amazing and once you catch their attention, they will want to know more, after which, I print out relevant articles of that story, and they will start reading. With much curiosity.
The idea is to seed their imagination, and slowly they will latch on and take it upon themselves to find out more. And that’s where we welcome in the 21st Century. The internet is a fabulous playground for the child. Google their curiosity away and make technology you were lamenting turn to your favour.
Bear in mind, some stories works wonders to certain groups of students, some not so much. Which leads us to the next point.
customise your reading
Recognise that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. There is an art in tailoring materials that suits your child. More often than not, you probably know what your child likes. Every kid is unique, and what might work for one, will probably not work for another. Recognize that if you like Lord of the Rings, might not be what your child will naturally take after. Harry Potter perhaps, or even the great Classics.
Make sure they find it new and relevant, and something they don’t find old fashioned. Nothing stops them dead on their tracks faster than information that is irrelevant and old. Its like owning an old beat up car that you won’t want to show off to your friends. Information that is old makes kids feel like they are learning something that everyone else knows, pretty much like an old beat up car.
the story doesn’t stop there
Support your child’s interests by researching not just the topic itself, but everything else that surrounds the topic.
Transformers the movie comes along and you can start talking about Transformers. Wikipedia has articles about Transformers. Why? How? What? Who? Talk about Peter Cullen and how he got to voice Optimus Prime. Talk about your own experiences about Transformers in your childhood.
The innards and the stories surrounding a story makes it more interesting for your child. Its like a secret that no one else knows. Sssshhhh….. let me tell you something special… and they get all tingly because it makes them special.
be the pillar of knowledge
This is probably a good way to make a child read. Children usually learn more when they find a role model to emulate. Tell them things that we know. Our own stories, knowledge, and pass it on to them. When we tell them so much information, they will want to be exactly like us. And when they find out that we got our knowledge from reading, they will definitely want to do the same too. Birds of a feather, flocks together.
library vs bookshops
Again, technology is starting to be wide spread in this arena. Libraries are finding ways to keep up with the times and don’t forget Amazon’s kindle which is an electronic book. We can easily buy a book off the internet, or even download one of the many free ebooks that are available. iPads are starting to get into the act too with lots of free downloads. The thing is, do what your child likes. Bring your kids to the library, see if they like reading by borrowing books, or try to get down to a bookshop and let them have their fun browsing. Also, go to different libraries as some are swankier than the others. Like us, kids likes new places. And look good too doing it.
So there you go, it takes a bit of effort to start your child on the track. But once you unlock their potential, they will fuel their own passions. All we need is just to kickstart them onto the right path.