Cultivating Reading Habits in our Kids

I am not a perfect parent but a work in progress. I don’t know everything I need to know about parenting because I am still learning. I don’t do everything I need to do because sometimes I am just plain lazy and I want to put my feet up. I need a lot of help from Jesus so that I can do what a mommy has do to with her kids.

I discovered a while back that I was brought up in an education system that forced me to read for the sake of passing exams which would lead to a wonderful career. This of course left out reading for the sake of gaining knowledge. You see, knowledge is power. When your end goal is to gain knowledge then you can enjoy reading. But if your end goal is to pass an exam, then you cannot enjoy reading. It becomes a chore and it is given up once you pass or fail the exam. As I have watched my children, I discovered they are in a school system that helps them cultivate a habit of reading and not for the sake of exams. There are some extra steps we can take to encourage our children to make reading a lifetime habit. Once this seed is planted, it goes on forever and ever simply because it will be passed down from one generation to another. So how do we help our children cultivate a reading habit.

Balance Your Life

Creating a balanced life is very important. Regardless of which season you are in your life, an unbalanced life will affect your productivity. Here are some ways you can do to create balance

  1. You have to learn to prioritize. I learned how to prioritize the hard way. That is a blog for another day. Sit down and right out what you must do and what you don’t have to do. Always remember your time with God comes first, then your family, then your work. Don’t let anything affect that order.
  2. Write a list of what you want to see change. Every year, many of us come up with New Year Resolutions but then do nothing about them. They are good only if you don’t expect things to change overnight. It is important to ease into change in order to achieve your goals.
  3. Set realistic goals. Whatever goals you choose to set, they must be reachable and realistic. The worst thing you can do is set very high goals because if you are not able to reach them, you can easily become discouraged. Also don’t set very low goals because you are not doing yourself a favor.
  4. Journal- It is important to write out what you do. This helps you discover where you can create time or where you are wasting time. It helps you accomplish you goals and makes you accountable of your own actions.
  5. No is also an answer. You should never be a people pleaser. I used to have a problem of saying no until the day I found out I had to prioritize. Then, I can say no and not feel guilty about it. Don’t allow anyone to take you on a guilt trip because you said no. Saying no also helps you create boundaries. Boundaries are important.

Read a Bedtime Story

If you did not start reading a bedtime story when you kids were babies, it is never late to start. Reading a bed time story cultivates a reading habit. Bedtime stories serve as a good teaching tool for everyday life skills. It also helps bring out our children’s imagination. If your child is just starting to read, bedtime stories will help teach primary colors and even shapes. A bed time story also helps you and your child bond. Again, if you are not doing it, it is not too late to start. If you are starting you can read a book for five minutes and then increase it to ten minutes.

Create a time to read

You can create a family time to read. Depending on your schedule, you can do it every day, or once a week. By doing this, you not only are doing an activity together which creates memories but you are letting your kids know the importance of reading. Last year, our son told us that we need to go on vacation. This is because he enjoys himself when we go out as a family. You can also have fun reading books. Just make sure the books you choose are fun to read. Our son loves Lightning McQueen, a character in the movie Cars, therefore he will read any story that involves this character. Many times, I take my children to half priced bookstores and allow them to choose what kind of books they want to read. They really enjoy. Please do make sure you go through the books they choose to read. You can also make a list of books you would want to read and buy them. As you read, cross them out of the list. You can ask your mommy friends to recommend books too.

Limit your child’s and your television watching time including the internet

In order to cultivate a reading habit, you have to limit the time you and your children spend watching television. I am guilty of turning on the television and letting my kids watch television because I needed to rest. I have changed over the course of a time but it has taken everything in me to do what I needed to do. There was a time I had a show I was watching every day of the week. I was hooked. But then I discovered I am watching shows of people who have already achieved their goal; being actors or actresses. Therefore, I started dropping one show after another. I stopped watching the shows because I discovered I have goals I have not achieved yet I am watching people who have achieved their goals.

 I have no show that I follow so I have time to spend with my family. I also have time to spend doing the different things I like to do including reading. Now let me say there is no problem with watching television. You just have to figure out whether it has become part of your life and whether what you are watching is beneficial in any way. If it helps you wind down, you don’t need two to three hours a day of television. As for our children, I have limited how much time they can spend on television. I do not want to cultivate a television watching habit. If they watch an hour a day, that is good for me. This leaves them enough time to play, time to read their books, time to watch educational programs on the internet. This schedule works well when they out of school in the summer months. Once they go back to school, they even have less time of television if any. It is important to know what you children are doing on the internet. Many kids have gotten into trouble because of something they saw on the internet. As parents we do need to be vigilant in this area.

Create social media habits that don’t take all your time

Social media; my goodness. I don’t even know what to say. There is a lot of it out there. It is important to create social media habits that are not negatively affecting other areas of your life. Set days when you can go on social media and how long you should be there. Whose profile do you visit because I have discovered reading some peoples messages don’t help me. Take some of the time you spend on social media and read a book. If you normally spend 1 hour on social media, break it into half. Spend 20 minutes on social media, and 40 minutes reading a book.

Encourage your child to read

One of the ways our children are encouraged to read is if we are reading too. Our children eventually become what we do, not what we say. If they see us reading, they will read too therefore set good examples for them to follow which will help them have healthy productive lives.

Visit the Library

Look at the library times in your area and make a trip to the library once a week. You children will love spending time looking at books. This is also a great way of saving money because you can borrow books from the library, read and then take them back.

Always remember, you are not a super parent and you may not be able to do everything in this list. But you can start by doing one or two things. They might look little and insignificant but if done consistently, they can cause major changes in not only your child’s life but yours too.

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