Dealing with an unenthusiastic reader?

The reading battleground and how to turn it around...

As the mum of a five-year boy in kindergarten, all I wanted was for him to try to do well in school, and at home. His nightly readers would come home, and I dreaded them as much as he did. He just didn’t seem to want to try. 

I would always start off with good intentions “it’s time to read!”, “oh this is a fun book”, “mummy loved this book when she was in kindy”... but the excitement was always very short lived. 

There were tantrums and tears and not just from him. His anger grew as his desire to read diminished and it became the chore around the house that no one wanted to do. 

I would always settle him down before bed time, and kiss and cuddle goodnight. I’d discuss my expectations for how I expect him to behave, very calmly, and then he said it - “I just hate reading mummy because I’m so bad at it”. A little piece of my heart broke that night.

Time to take action - That night, I emailed his teacher and she called us in. We had a great conversation where she provided useful and practical tips on how to help him build his confidence back up and tips for keeping him focused on the task at hand, and importantly, learn to love it. 

So, for all the parents out there trying to find ways of supporting their little ones through the first few years of school, I’ve included the top tips that worked for us!

  1. Stand up when reading! This really helped to focus his attention on the task and stopped all of the fidgeting and most of the complaining.
  2. Anticipate - Say the tricky words, or words you don't expect them to know in advance, so it doesn’t disrupt the flow of reading.
  3. Book choices - If confidence is an issue, choose easier books for home reading. This takes a bit of the pressure off and helps to build a positive attitude toward reading.
  4. Boost their confidence - Make a big deal when they complete a book or read well. Like, a really big deal... smiles, clapping, hugging - don't hold back with your enthusiasm. Commend your child for doing well!
  5. Reward them for trying. It could be something as simple as a certificate, a treat, or a visit to the park.  

After implementing these strategies, we saw an immediate improvement and It has changed the way we approach reading at home. He is now at a reading level aligned with where he should be entering into year one. The biggest takeaway for me, is that reading at home needs to be enjoyable for everyone, the minute it becomes frustrating for either of you, ABORT and seek guidance from your child’s school on how to better support their development at home. 

You might also like to use reading certificates celebrate your child's reading milestones. Check out some of our awards here.

If you have tips on what has worked for you or simply want to share your experience, please comment below!

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