I call her ‘Busy’
She’s constantly happy. She’s always in a rush. She’s full of ideas and suggestions about things to make from cardboard boxes. Never without a pair of scissors or cellotape. She has ants in her pants.
When she was small, I found myself regularly typing into Google phrases like ‘my child doesn’t watch tv’, ‘my child gasps between her sentences’. How bizarre, a child who doesn’t even like Peppa Pig?! Do they exist? I mean she could do one episode, just about, maybe, sometimes, but only after 6pm. It was tempting to get her ‘checked out’, but she was the brightest spark, a little ray of sunshine. Apart from the gasping, I never did.
So it was no surprise, when she started learning to read, that it wouldn’t be her thing. Sitting still for minutes at a time. She liked being read to but she quickly got into the habit of rushing her reading to get it over with, by skipping words, lines, making up words, and caring less if any of it made sense. Her teachers weren’t overly worried about her and neither was I as she could identify her words mostly, and write and spell ok. She just had zero patience for the inconvenience of it all. It’s so boring was her answer.
I bought the pack of 35 multi level books from the book people and tried to spend ten minutes in the evenings working through the first readers. It was really frustrating. I was even resorting to bribes and treats but no progress. I was starting to tear my hair out with comments like ‘you have to sit up’, ‘just five minutes’, ‘so tell me what happened’,‘you can’t read if you’re laughing’ aaahhh. So eventually I gave up. On that effort at least!.
I’d always read to her regularly, so I suggested we read together now that she could read too (kinda!) So I read a page and she read one, well that was the intention but often she got frustrated after a few lines so I didn’t push it. Besides it didn’t matter how much she read once she was reading and enjoying it.
And she was enjoying it.
Because, now instead of the Biff & Chip & Kipper series, we read Road Dahl’s Witches. I tried to do accents and she loved that. We then moved onto the Secret Garden which was way above her reading level but I’d read in Wayne Dyers book, What do you really want for your Children ,how he was intrigued by the Secret Garden as a child. She loved me trying the Yorkshire accent and loved trying it herself. She struggled through the sentences but didn’t mind. She loved the story of the children in the garden and even started asking “Will we read our book now?” Big moment!.
This went on for a year and while she was improving, it took time. It was a slow burner.
Recently we’ve enjoyed Roald Dahl’s Boy & Going Solo, and I’m amazed at the detail she remembers from them.
Some skills are slow burners. It’s so difficult as parents to accept this. We expect all children to be at the same stage whether it’s height, teeth etc. We are all unique and skills come to us at different stages.
But I do believe reading is such an invaluable skill for all children, that it deserves particular attention and nurturing, and is a wonderful way to build your relationship with your child also.
Make it FUN, use characters, use accents
Little & Often, everyday
I read a page, YOU read a page (or even a few lines or paragraph)
Switch it up often, try books outside of their age and interest levels
Try FACT and FICTION
Be accepting, consistent and keep trying.