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We are bookworms in this house, we love reading and we are trying to encourage the 4-year-old to do some toddler reading of his own.
Since starting school, one of their main focuses is to teach reading as it is a precursor to academic learning and they are using Phonics to do it and it is definitely working for us! We have seen great improvement in short spaces of time. As our little guy has a lot of dyslexic relatives, daddy included, we have always been concerned that he may find reading and/or writing difficult so we are trying to do a little every day and get a head start. We also want him to enjoy reading, even if it takes him a little longer and finds it harder because in my opinion there is nothing more satisfying than getting lost in another world when you are reading!
Toddler reading, however, has proven a little difficult because it is less enjoyable (and quite frustrating) when you can’t read the words and everything is a little slower. So here are some of the tips that we have incorporated to make toddler reading a little more bearable (for everyone involved) in the hope of encouraging a love of reading like we have!
Cut TV Time
It is not very often the toddler picks reading over watching TV and we found it hard to pry him away and then to focus. We have now created a “No TV in the morning” rule which means that during the week before school the TV doesn’t get turned on and we found that he picks up a book are doesn’t argue now he knows watching cartoons isn’t an option!
Set Some Time
Life can get in the way and we get really busy during the week so it is easy to forget that we haven’t read anything after school and then no-one can be bothered. We try to set aside some time to do reading, it doesn’t have to be the same time every day but even 10 or 15 minutes in the morning or fitting in around the day. Our preferred time slot at the moment is the traditional pre-bedtime read because the toddler reads his book first and then we read a story before bed! (great way to stay up a few more minutes!)
I have a terribly short amount of patience and I struggle not to get bored listening to him spell out every letter but I have found that working on the tricky words over and over means that reading becomes easier and we both enjoy it more. Doing it almost every day keeps things consistent and makes us both work on what we need too and helps to reduce the toddler frustration by going back later and trying again!
Let Them Choose The Book
Have you ever tried reading a book you didn’t want too? It’s not fun and you just can’t be bothered! (a bit like at school or academic reading) I find that letting him pick the story helps for him to get more involved and interested in the story which keeps him focused and means he actually WANTS to read.
A lot of the time toddler reading can be a slow process and the story can get a bit forgotten in the meantime. A lot of the time we either do a page or two pages each, that way he reads some and then I do and we manage to get through the story at a decent pace and everyone is happy!
Although structure and repetition are helpful, I don’t want him to feel as though it is regimented and grow to resent reading and treat it like it is academic. So we let him read wherever he feels like; in bed, sitting on the kitchen side while I cook, on the floor, in the hallway or wherever strikes our fancy that day! Plus it keeps things more interesting too!
I love the idea of a reading nook although unfortunately, we don’t have enough space for that so instead we like to create a “cozy corner” which is where you throw pillows, a duvet or loads of blankets in a pile, snuggle underneath and read or tell stories! It’s a lot more fun and comfortable and I find it better for having proper quality time rather than trying to do other things at the same time or getting distracted! We also used to have a giant bean bag that we would try to fit us all on as well!
Hopefully these tips will be able to help you and your toddler enjoy reading, I can’t wait until the little guy picks up a story, reads to himself and discovers the joy of reading!