Friday, January 22, 2016


One of the greater challenges teachers face is not simply getting students to read – it's getting them to enjoy it too. Teachers and parents want their children to open another book when they get home at the end of the day for the mere pleasure of it.

Research has shown that motivation to read decreases with age, especially if a child’s attitude towards reading becomes less positive. If children do not enjoy reading when they are young, then they are unlikely to do so when they get older.
That is why for younger readers in particular, their home environment is critically important. 

What are some ways to encourage school-age readers?

1.     Continue being a good role model - Let your child see you read.
2.     Encourage your child to read on her own at home - Reading at home can help your child do better in school.
3.     Keep a variety of reading materials in the house - Make sure to have reading materials for enjoyment as well as for reference.
4.     Encourage your child to practice reading aloud  - Frequently listen to your child read out loud and praise her often as she does so. Offer to read every other page or even every other chapter to your child. Have conversations and discussions about the book with your child.
5.     Write short notes for your child to read - Write down his weekly household responsibilities for him to keep track of or put a note in his lunch bag.
6.     Encourage activities that require reading - Cooking (reading a recipe), constructing a kite (reading directions), or identifying a bird's nest or a shell at the beach (reading a reference book) are some examples.
7.     Establish a reading time, even if it's only 10 minutes each day - Make sure there is a good reading light in your child's room and stock her bookshelves with books and magazines that are easy to both read and reach.
8.     Talk with your child - Talking makes children think about their experiences more and helps them expand their vocabularies. Ask your child to give detailed descriptions of events and to tell complete stories.
9.     Give your child writing materials - Reading and writing go hand in hand. Children want to learn to write and to practice writing. If you make pencils, crayons, and paper available at all times, your child will be more inclined to initiate writing activities on his own.
10.                        Restrict television time - The less time your child spends watching television, the more time he will have for reading-related activities.
11.                        Visit the library once a week - Have your child apply for her own library card so she can check out books on her own for schoolwork and for pleasure reading. Ask your child to bring home a library book to read to a younger sibling and encourage her to check out books on tape that she can listen to on long car trips.
12.                        Work in partnership with your child's school - The more you know about the type of reading program his school follows, the more you can help by supplementing the program at home. Offer to volunteer in the classroom or school library as often as your schedule allows. Ask the school for parent participation materials.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A new year can mean new resolutions for both children and adults alike. Children are never too young to participate in setting New Year’s resolutions. In fact, parents and children may have more success if they make New Year’s resolutions as a family, with every family member having a specific part, and all are accountable for them.

When planning, it is important to set resolutions or goals that are clear, achievable and measurable.  Resolutions can be made at any age, but it may be most effective to start with school-aged children.   Parents should ask them, ‘What’s something you want to be better or different this year?’ and help them map out how to get there.

Some helpful reminders for parents helping children with New Years Resolutions (and sticking to them):
1.      Set goals that are clear, achievable and measurable for the child and his/her abilities - talk about making them specific. If a child wants to do better in school, have him pick a specific subject. Set a goal. “I will do better in school by raising my grade in science from a 3 to a 4” or “I will study two nights before every Spelling test instead of just the night before.”

2.      Consider setting goals as a family, with every person doing his/her own part –  this is a great lesson for teamwork AND for all working together towards a common goal. Sitting down for dinner, going out once a week as a family, or each sharing a chore at home are great examples that involve everyone.

3.      Avoid setting too many goals - A long list of resolutions is simply too overwhelming. Young children should focus on one thing they want to improve and older children should limit it to two or three. Talk with your children about what is most important and focus on those. Then maybe take your own advice and set few for yourself, too.

4.      Write Those Resolutions Down - Writing things down makes them more real. Write down the resolutions in either a private journal if your child wants it to be private or on a piece of paper that is posted someplace visible if your child doesn't mind everyone seeing. Older children could possibly begin a journal to track their resolution journey. 

5.      Follow up periodically to see how children are doing with their goals; Trouble-shoot challenges together - Ask your children how their resolutions are coming along. Suggest ways that they can stick to their resolutions. If they mess up, encourage them to try again. Let them know that January 1st is not the only day for resolutions. They can start them, or re-start them, whenever they want.

6.      Reward children for success along the way - Verbal praise goes a long way! Sticking by our resolutions provides parents with an invaluable opportunity to teach children that rewards not always have to be tangible. Children can learn early on that the reward itself is perseverance, and knowing that something they set their mind to can be done.

7.      Be an Example For Your Kids - Do you have your own resolutions? Share one of them with your children. Then do your best to follow through with it. Compare resolution notes with your children from time to time. Encourage each other. Remember, parents are mentors for setting resolutions.  Model the type of behavior you want as a family and everyone will be more successful. 

Here’s to a happy & healthy 2016!