Location: Oregon, United States of America
The Family that reads together learns together
I am a firm believer that reading can help you learn a whole heap of things that you would otherwise would be ignorant of. Depending on what you are reading you may be learning little more than fun facts and trivia, but you are still adding to your knowledge. Also, you don’t have to be reading non-fiction to be learning; books are full of words and the more words we see, hear or read, the greater our vocabulary can be. So no matter what you are reading you will at the very least be gleaning some trivial knowledge and expanding your vocabulary.
As parents we can greatly influence our children in their reading/learning habits simply by reading with and to them. Children learn from watching. They watch us constantly and learn the good and the bad. So as long as they are watching so intently we may as well take advantage of their attention and set the example by creating family reading times. If your days and evenings are pretty full and you are having difficulty setting a time to read together as a family, here are some suggestions to get you moving in the right direction.
Dinner Reading Time:
Watching television during dinner has become widely popular among many American families. While not inherently bad, the television generally does not promote learning or conversation. So start by turning of the television and tuning into a good book. The dinner table may be a good place to read something that is fun and full of facts because in such books there generally good and easy sping points. Just make sure you’re not reading anything too gross, you are eating.
These fact based books may also be a good way to spark family conversation and get your children and you thinking. This type of routine will probably be easier to instill in younger children, but if your kids are a little older it is still possible, you just may have to be more creative with your reading material. If they have lots of reading material for homework you could even suggest that you all go over the material as a family that way you are still reading and learning and homework is getting started before 9pm.
Bed time/Nap time Reading:
This one is rather obvious and traditional, but becoming less common as parents are busy all day long and may be struggling to get kids to sleep on time. Although this may require a little more energy and effort on your part, the effort will pay off in the end when your child (later in life) is capable of reading a whole book and completing a report on it rather than just skimming through the cliff notes or watching the movie.
Bed time is a great time for chapter books, even if you have younger children. You can read one or two chapters each night, maybe even sping mid chapter just to keep their attention so they will want to know what happens next. Many kids’ chapter books have rather short chapters so even if you are reading slowly you can still be done in thirty minutes or less. As your kids get older, you can transition into having them read to you or a before bed reading tradition where everyone reads in the same room but silently to themselves.
Whether you choose fun fact books like, Ripley’s Believe it or not, or fictional books, like A Series of Unfortunate Events, reading them together as a family will promote life long learning and reading throughout the whole family.