Parental involvement and support: empowering reluctant readers at home

One of the parents' joys is seeing their children thrive in their academic pursuits; reading is foundational to that success. However, not all children naturally take to reading. For reluctant readers, parental involvement can be the key to unlocking their potential. 

Workee experts spoke with Ellen Westbrook, founder of Engaging Reluctant Readers and the Developing Ravenous Readers Club. A membership that guides parents with the right tips and tools to make reading exciting and engaging for their children.

As a recovering reluctant reader and a mom of two, Ellen has successfully unlocked a love for reading and raised two book-loving boys, and now she is committed to showing parents how to do so. In this article, she shares seven strategies to empower your child to discover the joy of reading. Enjoy

1. Create a reading-friendly environment

Making reading at home a pleasurable experience can be achieved by creating a comfortable atmosphere. This is especially helpful for kids who aren't too keen on reading, as they're more likely to pick up a book if they associate it with relaxation and comfort. You can help by establishing a cozy reading nook with comfortable seating, good lighting, and a variety of books your child can easily access. As well as ensuring that books are visible and accessible all around the house and even on the go reduces the overwhelm of having too many books in one centralized area and eliminates the need to search for one if they’re consistently present.. By doing this, even kids who aren't particularly interested in reading may be inspired to read more independently.

2. Lead by example

Children often mimic their parent's behaviors. If they see you reading and enjoying books, they are more likely to develop an interest in reading themselves. By making reading a visible part of your daily routine, you subtly encourage your child to do the same. For example, if you read the morning paper daily at breakfast, your child may become curious and want to do the same.  Before they realize it, they start to enjoy reading themselves simply because they see you doing it consistently. Remember, children often mirror what they see their parents doing.

3. Personalize reading material

Children may not be interested in reading because they haven't found books that capture their attention. To help them enjoy reading, it's best to personalize their reading material. For example, if your child loves dinosaurs, look for books that cover this topic. Introducing them to a series of books that align with their interests can turn a reluctant reader into an enthusiastic one.

4. Use technology to your advantage

It's amazing how technology is helping us create a love for reading! Nowadays, we can access many helpful tools like audiobooks, eBooks, and reading apps. These are especially great for kids who might have a hard time with traditional books. And the best part is interactive reading apps make the experience even more enjoyable and engaging! With all these wonderful options, you and your kids can explore a variety of reading materials and keep your minds stimulated.

5. Engage in Shared reading

Sharing a book with your child is a wonderful way to bond with them and boost their reading abilities. This activity gives you the opportunity to model good reading practices, engage in meaningful conversations about the plot, and foster a deeper connection with your child. Shared reading shouldn’t stop just because your child can read independently. By reading to/or with them, you’re taking the pressure off, and it allows them to sit back and enjoy the story as it unfolds.  By establishing a regular reading routine together, such as making it a nightly ritual, you can transform what seems like a chore into a cherished tradition that piques their interest in reading and strengthens your relationship.

6. Encourage a reading routine

Establishing a consistent reading routine that works for the whole family can help reluctant readers develop reading habits. Consistency is key, whether 20 minutes before bed or an intentional 5-10 minutes here and throughout the day; the plan has to work for the whole family so it doesn’t just become another to-do list that remains unchecked. Setting a specific 'reading time' can make reading part of the daily routine rather than an imposed task. 

7. Be Patient and Supportive

Finally, remember that every child learns at their own pace. It's important to be patient and supportive and avoid turning reading into a stressful activity. Celebrate their progress, no matter how small, and continually encourage their efforts. If you have a slow reader that’s often frustrated after they read, with unwavering support and encouragement, they can gradually gain confidence and become more comfortable with reading. However, if your reader is truly struggling to grasp important skills, it’s important to release any guilt you are feeling and get them the additional support they need. In fact, 1 in 5 readers will require a more structured approach to learning how to read, and that’s okay!

In conclusion, parental involvement is crucial in transforming a reluctant reader into a confident one. The strategies above are not a one-size-fits-all solution but provide a starting point. Ultimately, it's about understanding your child's unique needs and finding creative ways to make reading enjoyable and rewarding for them. It might take some time and patience, but the reward - a child who loves reading - is definitely worth the effort.

Thank you, Ellen, for sharing your insights and supporting Workee!

You can connect with Ellen and learn more about her work on Facebook, or Instagram

Ihor, CEO at Workee

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