Ideas for encouraging kids to read

Hi folks,
Claire here I am writing the blog today, I have worked for YogaBugs for over a year now, I am a Primary School teacher with over ten years experience and I also managed a Children’s Centre. I am also more importantly a mother of two very active and energetic boys, one 6 and one 3 years old.

I wanted to write about something that as a mum and a teacher I can sometimes find frustrating. I struggle sometimes with being enthusiastic when it comes to reading the school book every night (let’s face it, they are written for learning purposes not entertainment value) or getting my boys to turn off the telly, game console etc. and come and read a book.

We are all aware of the importance of reading and how when a child does engage, it is a magical moment to see them so emerged in a story and become so excited that they can’t wait to read more (and if like my 3 year old, turns the page before you have finish), but how do we get that to happen on a regular basis and make it part of our everyday life?

I have put together some ideas and tricks for you that I have learnt over that last 12 years, when trying to convince children that reading is the best fun ever. I hope you find it interesting and more importantly useful. I would love to hear your feedback and, also as I image many of you will have your own great ideas that you have tried and tested.

Make it a Game or a Challenge; try some positive reinforcement to kick-start the reading process. Make a list of five or ten books you and your kids can read at the same time, and create a chart to keep track of how far you’re both getting. Whether it’s two pages or 200, any progress is progress worth noting. You’re a reader, too, so make time for some reading of your own! We all know how much children love to repeat the things adults say and do, and if your kids see that you’re interested in your own book, they’ll be quick to follow suit.

What Gets your Child Excited? The incentive to read is different for every child. For anyone to be motivated to do anything, they have to believe two things: (1) They have to believe they can do it, and (2) they have to want to do it. Some kids may be motivated by a sticker on the chart, while others may need the promise of a more tangible prize, like a trip to the community pool or zoo, a trip to the book store to buy a book of their choice, to catch their attention. However, Thom Barthelmess, president of the Association of Library Service to Children, cautions parents against promising TV time in exchange for reading. “Kids are smart and they’re paying attention, and the message we want to give them is that reading is its own reward. When we [offer TV as a reward for reading], we show them that reading is what you do to get something really valuable, like watch TV,” Thom says.

Dinosaur Books vs. the Remote Be sure that your kids’ books are easy to access within your home. By making kids’ books more available than the remote, you’ll encourage them to turn a page rather than turn on the TV. Do you have a box that can be left in the living room will a few selected books? Spice racks (wooden shelf types, IKEA sell them for something silly like £1.99) are great and easy to put up, fix them low so that your kids access them at any time, you’ll be amazed at how much they will use this book rack.

With emerging readers—little ones who aren’t yet reading on their own, it’s especially important to be conscious of the emphasis you place on literacy. Young children are incredibly excited to learn how to read because it moves them up that ladder to being a big kid, so use this excitement to get them looking at books and telling you the story (even if it is nothing like the story).

Reading on the road Reception teacher Nancy Singer finds that the best time to practice early reading skills is when you’re in the car. After all, she says, you’ll have a captive audience! “Parents are so busy. There just isn’t a lot of extra time anymore. But everyone’s in the car, whether it is school runs, shopping, activities etc, we all spend time with our children in the car,” Nancy says.

Look for environmental print, words you see all around you on buildings and street signs. When you drive by a restaurant or store, call out the letters. When you roll up to a stop sign, say “Stop! S-T-O-P spells stop.” “Who can spot the Tesco sign?” Nancy says efforts like this help your kids make the connection between letters, sounds and reading.

Lighten Up Help your kids realise that reading lends itself to more than just books. Encourage them to get their hands on everything they can, including comics, game directions, cereal boxes and kid-friendly websites. “Even having them go online and search for things—it’s still reading. It’s still having them comprehend and synthesize the information from what they’ve read. This also highlights to them, just how important reading is. Just as you’d curl up with your favourite magazine, there are publications geared toward kids, as well. It can sometimes be more difficult to interest boys in reading than girls. Boys, typically aren’t interested in narratives, and most of the books available for younger kids are just that. This is no excuse to let your sons off the hook. For a lot of boys, it might Sports Illustrated, there are some good magazines and comics available now, that are designed to grab boys interest, but it doesn’t matter what they read as long as they read

Reading and writing go hand in hand at the early stages of literacy. Letting little boys write about topics they’re interested it is more productive than say, asking them to journal about their favourite memory.

Time to Read Out Loud When making dinner ask your child to sit in the kitchen with you and read to you, as for most parents/carers time is something we would all like more of, ask them to help you read the recipe that you are following. I often make mistakes when I’m reading, my son loves correcting me and it also shows them that we all make mistake and reading takes practice.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving For birthdays and holidays, give your children books, just as you would a toy. Everything is more exciting dressed in wrapping paper and a bow. Thom says, from a parenting perspective, it’s as crucial to show children the importance of reading as it is to tell them. “One way to show them is by making a book into a gift, which they already know is something of great value,” he says. “We know kids having access to things to read is critically important to kids loving [reading]. Surround them.”

The more enthusiasm you show about the book, the more they’ll appreciate the gift they’ve received. Think about the stories you loved as a child. Write a personal note on the inside cover so your children understand how much this book means to you. If you cherish it, they probably will too.

And when your kids do receive a book as a gift, keep the book in a special place. Especially at a young age, kids are interested in anything—and everything—that belongs to them alone. I have a few books that I keep for special reading time together and not one that they can have all the time and handle, my little loves these and always gets excited when I ask if he would like to read one of them- (It’s the Jolly Postman at the moment).
Slow and Steady Wins the Race All children learn to read at a different pace. Instead of asking your little ones to finish a certain number of pages, look at the picture, discuss favourite parts. It doesn’t matter what page they start on it’s the reading that is important.

As a parent or anyone who is around young children, you’ve probably noticed that many love to “read” their favourite books over and over again, essentially reciting the stories from memory. (If I have to read Mr Tickle again I may go insane!)  As boring as this may be for us, this is actually an important early step in the reading process. Children learn sounds before they learn the letters that represent those sounds.

It’s counter-intuitive to us, as adults, because we associate the letter with the sound, but children learn that in the reverse order, you know for sure they’re beginning to understand and learn words when they read the same or similar words in a different context. They’re beginning to understand if they can take those skills and transfer them to a different book that they haven’t read before.”

The Monster under the Bed Leave your kids’ books next to their beds. If you encourage them to read for a few minutes each night, they’ll be polishing off books in no time. My three year who cannot read yet, insists that I leave one or two books with him, and I love to listen (outside the door) to his interpretation of the book.
Night time reading with your kids is a necessary activity (and should be an enjoyable one) this is a nice idea that can help this, create an “under the bed box.”

Take a shoe box and wrap it up with colourful paper and ribbon; make it special, and keep it in under your child’s bed. When she receives a book as a gift or brings one home from school, add it to the box and let her know she doesn’t have to share any of those specific books with her siblings or friends. At night, before your children go to sleep, go under the bed and pick out a book to read.

An Adventure of Its Own To kids of all ages, there’s nothing like a good adventure. Turn a trip to your library or local bookstore into an anticipated event, and you never know your little ones might even beat you to the car.

Help your kids sign up for a library card. Not only will they feel more grown up, but they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and possession over their reading abilities. If, early on, you can instil in your children the value of print, they’ll carry it with them for years to come.

Choose a book for yourself while your kids make their own decision. If it is a first time visit, it make take a while, let them roam around and explore, show them where their sections are and guide their choice but ultimately give them the final choice. They may want a great big catalogue of fiction, and seemingly random books, they may just want to read about this one animal and then go back 30 pages and read about another animal, this is ok and should be encouraged.

I hope you have enjoyed this tips and that you find them useful, let’s get our children reading more.

We also have our own Pinterest page, which is full of more great ideas. Also please don’t forget to support us by liking and sharing our page on facebook/YogaBugs.

 

 

A Yoga Routine For Winter Warming

During the winter, we may feel more like curling up but that actually makes us colder. When it’s chilly outside, yoga is a great way to get the body moving, warm up the muscles and get the blood circulating. You could start this routine with a song. “The Grand Old Duke of York” is great for pre-school children as you can march up and down the hill as you sing.

Cycling: Start off by lying on your back. Cycle up the hill – slowly at first and then faster. Slow down to a stop.

Rocking Horse: Roll up and down on your mat. As you do, try to touch the floor behind you with your feet. Do this 5-6 times. Come up to a sitting position with your feet together in butterfly pose.

Butterfly Pose: Sit up tall, bend your knees and bring the bottom of your feet to touch. Flap your butterfly wings to warm up your hips.

Cat Pose: Kneel on the floor on all fours. Arch your back like a cat and make some meowing noises!

Cow Pose: Kneel on the floor on all fours. Raise your head up and sink your back down into a deep curve.

Sun Salutations for YogaBugs

Hello Sun: Stand up tall and stretch your arms overhead. Shout “Hello Sun!”

Hello Earth: Bend down to touch the floor into Ragdoll. Shout “Hello Earth!”

Lunge: Step one foot backwards into a lunge, the way runners do when they’re starting a race. Shout “beep, beep!”

Dog Pose: Take both legs back so that your hands and feet are on the floor and your buttocks are in the air (the shape of an upside-down triangle).

Lunge: From dog pose, bring one foot forwards between your hands. Shout “beep, beep!”

Ragdoll: Bring both feet together. You will now be folded forward with your arms and shoulders completely relaxed. Come back to standing.

Repeat this sequence of moves three to four times. 

Monkey Jumps: Finish off by doing three to five big star jumps. Start from a squat. Jump up as high as you can whilst making monkey sounds.

To wind down, you can finish by singing a favourite song to keep the energy positive.

Lion, Snake and Butterfly: Yoga Games You Can Do With The Kids

Yoga and kids make a great fit because children naturally love to move their bodies and use their imagination to act like animals and other things in their world. Just keep in mind that younger tots will prefer hopping and ribbiting in Frog pose rather than holding still, so encourage them to move around and make lots of noise.

You can use these poses to play a game of ‘Simon Says’ where you do a pose like Lion or Snake and the kids copy you. A game of ‘Freeze Yoga’ is also fun — play some upbeat tunes, and when the music stops, call out a yoga pose (like Boat or Flamingo) and they have to hold the pose like a statue. Or have your kids make up their own yoga poses. When it comes to children and yoga, the most important thing is to be creative and have fun so as they grow up, their love of yoga will grow, too. Here’s a group of yoga poses your kids will love to try:

Lion Pose – Start by kneeling, stick your tongue out as far as it will go and roar like a lion. If you feel foolish doing this, remember that this pose gives a natural facelift as it is said to prevent and eliminate wrinkles!

Snake Pose – Lie on your tummy. With your hands next to your shoulders, push up and hiss like a snake.

Cat Pose – Kneel on your hands and knees. Line your hands right underneath your shoulders and your knees right under your hips. Round and arch your spine toward the ceiling and let your head float toward the floor. Hold for three breaths. Make the “meow” sound as you hold the pose to create an audible relation to Cat Pose.

Cow Pose – From Cat Pose, let your belly sink toward the floor as you raise your gaze upward which creates a curve in the spine. Make the cow sound “moo” and move back and forth between Cat and Cow Pose a few times.

Dog Pose – This poses gives kids’ brains a boost in circulation and improves breathing. From Cow Pose, curl your toes under, and lift your hips up as you straighten your arms. Your body will resemble an upside down V. Gaze straight back at your belly and relax your neck.

Butterfly Pose - Sitting on the floor with the bottoms of the feet together, let your knees drop open to the side so that they form a diamond shape. These are the wings, which you can gently flap up and down. Butterfly pose is intended to be fun and calming.

Tree Pose – Invite the children to imagine a giant tree and its roots holding it firmly, as if roots are growing out of the soles of their feet and into the ground. This pose is a invitation to develop balance while using the imagination. Draw one foot to the side of the calf and balance on the standing leg. Bring the hands first to prayer position at the heart, and then raise them in the air to form branches. Try closing your eyes and see how long you can remain balanced. Repeat on the other side.

What To Do This Weekend: 26 August

We’re hoping for more warm, sunny days to see us through to the Autumn Term but just in case there’s the odd shower, we’d like you to enter our art competition (see details below). How about:

Flying A Kite: Most homes have at least one kite forgotten in a cupboard – or you can make your own, using dowelling and paper and glue. If you’re really keen, there are even professionals who’ll give you kite-flying lessons in windy spots across the country – see www.kitevibe.com.

Stargazing: It might take a while to work things out, but stick with it – and once you’ve identified a constellation, you’ll always find it easy to spot. It’s always magical to go out at night – see popastro.com.

Cycling: Check out routes on www.sustrans.org.uk If you haven’t got any bikes, hire them out and exploring your neighbourhood in a whole new way. Get ready for cycling to school in September.

Entering Our Art Competition: We’re asking YogaBugs to send in a picture of their favourite YogaBugs adventure. The winning entrant in each age range – MiniBugs (walking age to 2 years) MegaBugs (2 to 3.5 years), MightyBugs (3.5 to 5 years and 5 to 7 years) and Yoga’d Up (8 to 12 years) will win a book or CD prize and your picture will feature on our website. Unfortunately we won’t be able to return your pictures. Please be sure to put your name, age, email and postal address on the back of your picture. Entries should be received by Friday, 7 October and be posted to:

Art Competition,

YogaBugs Mission Control,

Centre Court,

1301 Stratford Road,

Birmingham B28 9HH

What To Do This Weekend: 12 August

What a great time I had at the LolliBop Children’s Festival last weekend and I really enjoyed our jungle and supersonic adventures! I really love getting out and meeting other YogaBugs. I’m now back at YogaBugs mission control but there are plenty of child friendly festivals you can go to over the summer. Check out festivalkidz.com for more information.

The National Trust are giving free admission to kids between 1-26 August. You can download your free voucher here – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-visits-kidsgofree.htm. The National Trust also have hundredds of ‘Wild Child’ activities taking place in our gardens, parks, woodland, open countryside and beaches. From safaris and bug hunts to pond dipping and bat watching, there are plenty of ways children can get close to nature in the great outdoors.

Waybuloo will be bringing a life size Pipling’s home to several National Trust locations across England. Children are able to climb inside an specially adapted Piplings home and imagine what it would be like to live as a Pipling. For more information regarding venues around the country, visit  http://uk.waybuloo.com/news/visit-piplings-home. Meanwhile here are some other activities to keep you entertained over the summer holidays.

Build A Den: An innate ability in children or join a course. This can give them ideas for dens to keep them entertained for the entire summer. For den-building courses seewww.forestry.gov.uk.

Try Sand Sculpture: Sand sculpting is more popular than ever before and doesn’t just have to be confined to making sand castles. Start with a flotsam and jetsam-collecting session, since this will add plenty of fuel to your ideas, and then set off.

Organise A Rounders Match: Everyone loves a rounders match (or you could make it cricket). Simply phone a few other families, choose your day, and bring picnics for lunch. Make sure the teams are well-balanced in terms of age, ability etc, and play hard! It’s a wonderfully bonding experience.

Row A Boat: Most places have a park with a boating lake somewhere within striking distance, so why not throw caution to the wind and try out the boats? Make sure the kids wear life jackets which should be available from the hire attendant. Take it in turns to row  -so what if you end up going round and round in circles?

Borrow A Dog: If your child is a dog lover, chances are that a dog would be a welcome guest – so why not invite one over, for the day or even for the weekend? To find your dog, just ask around: dog-owners need breaks too.

What To Do This Weekend: 5th August

It’s been such a busy week for YogaBugs. Not only have we been putting the finishing touches to our new website, but I’ve hot-footed it down to London to be at the LolliBop Children’s Festival in Regents Park from 5-7 August – http://www.lollibopfestival.com. Last weekend I made by first festival appearance at the Magic Loungeabout Festival at Broughton Hall, Skipton. If I met you there, hopefully I wasn’t too cranky? I’m not really accustomed to camping and I didn’t sleep too well! A big thank you to Rachel Frazer ofyorkshire@yogabugs.com for organising this.

As life can’t be all YogaBugs adventures, I’ve come up with some other activities you could do with your kids over the summer holidays.

Visit A Pick-Your-Own Farm: A cheap day out with the added touch of learning about picking and growing and making jams or puddings when back home. Seewww.pickyourownfarms.org.uk for a list of farms.

Organise A Street Party: It’s a lovely way to spend a summer evening – and if you don’t want to go to the hassle of getting the council to close the road, and have a park or green space nearby, you could always hold it there instead. Simply drop invitations through your neighbours’ doors, and organise a planning meeting. See www.streetparty.org.uk for more information.

Plant A Few Seeds Or A Veggie Grow-Bag: You don’t need any more space than a window-box, or a tiny space on a patio. Your kids will love deciding what to plant, sowing the seeds, remembering to water them and then charting their progress from seedling to their stomach. Children love anything to do with nature.

Pitch A Tent In The Garden: Nothing beats the excitement of a tent pitched in the garden or borrow one from a friend! Encourage the children to decorate it with cushions, blankets, books, iPods. And of course, lunch and tea can be picnics under canvas!

And Finally Go On A Scavenger Hunt: Here’s how you can turn a mundane walk to the grocery shop, the library, the post office or the park into a fun outing. If you’re not super-keen on having pine cones, acorns and twigs stashed in your kids’ rooms, you can do a photo scavenger hunt instead. Get your kids to bring their cameras (disposables work well for this) and take pictures of the objects on an alphabet list. Simply prepare a list with each letter of the alphabet and set off to find at least one object that starts with each letter. Get your kids to record the name of the item they’ve photographed on the list.