Many parents believe that if they simply provide their children some reading material that should be enough to encourage their children to read. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. As parents, we have to make a deliberate attempt, to create an environment that is conducive to learning and reading in our homes.
How do we create a great reading environment at home and offer as many resources to a child to give him/her the best start?
I’ve put together a list of the 4Cs that have made a huge difference in my own children in the last 6 months. It has changed the way my oldest sees reading and not just as homework. Reading has become enjoyment and not a task.
Create an inviting space
Whether you have a small apartment or a large villa, there is always room for a small, dedicated reading corner. In our case, we have a garden bench that we renovated for inside use. It is located under our stairs. We placed colourful pillows and blankets and included their ‘Wall of Fame’ (their paintings, certificates, etc.) above it. This location is away from the TV and loud sounds. Underneath the bench, we placed sideways baskets where their books are stacked. There is one for our 2 year old and another for our 6 year old. They may choose from it at any time.
Create structure; make it enjoyable
Invite your child to read at times when they are relaxed and most open to reading. For some, it may be just after the school day ends. Others may prefer to read at bedtime. Know their best times and make their environment available at that time.
Create variety; Pique their curiosity
Provide a variety of books. This will allow them to read what they like depending on their mood. We decided to have ‘Book a Week’. Each Saturday, I pickup a new book (book sales or several at the school’s book fairs) and I put a new one in the baskets for each of them. They know Saturday is ‘find the book day’ because they get to figure out which is the new book of the week. It’s their challenge to find it. Most of the time that is the book they sit down with.
Create family time
We have many opportunities to read together as a family. Some evenings, all of us are on the sofa each reading alone or to each other. Many nights, my wife and daughter lie on the bed and read their own books. I listen to my oldest asking questions, “What does this mean?” or “Why is she mad?” This enhances our engagement with them. It opens up an incredible dialogue between a parent and a child.
The Year of Reading goes beyond a mere 365 days. As parents, we have the opportunity to make real contributions to our children’s education – starting on the very first day – today.
We are offered a very small amount of time to form a great part of a child’s future. The environment that a child learns in, the 4Cs and the support they receive along with the ability to make choices, are vital to that success.
Make your first day of The Year of Reading, today.
By Mostafa Hassan
Mostafa (ArabBaba) is a teacher by profession. He has been an Arab Stay-At-Home-Baba (Dad) to his two daughters. He is also a blogger, who is on a mission to prove that Parental Engagement is vital to the process of children’s education. For more on ArabBaba visit www.ArabBaba.org