Why do children become unmotivated to read (or do anything, for that matter?)
There can be a dozen different reasons, and it’s important to step back and assess the situation so we can help pinpoint the issue, but the bottom line is most likely that they are bored! Even we as adults get unmotivated when the day ahead of us is too predictable. We get bored when we know that nothing exciting or fun is most likely going to happen. Now, we can’t make reading, schoolwork or chores super exciting all the time, but there are a few things we can do to help!
Children learn more effectively through play. They learn as they try to solve puzzles, engineer a solution to a problem, or figure out a mystery. Imagination and play are the foundation of a healthy childhood and can contribute greatly to a love of reading as well!
Let’s look at a few things we can do as parents to help spark and nourish a lifelong love for reading in our children:
1.Take time to read
A love for reading is often copying a modelled behavior. Like most people, your schedule is probably jam packed. It can be a welcome interlude to the busyness of the day to take some for the whole family to read. Read to your child, or just alongside time as you each choose reading material you enjoy. As they see us reading for our own enjoyment, they are more likely to develop a wonderful reading habit of their own!
Again, with our busy schedules this can seem like an activity that can get pushed to the back burner, but we promise it’s worth carving out a little bit of time for, even if it’s just 15 minutes after supper.
2.Identify a weakness
Your children might seem unmotivated because they are struggling to read. Identifying the area where your child is struggling can help get you started in finding a solution that works for both of you! Dyslexia, fluency, and vocabulary skills are just a few areas that might be weak. They might also have issues with their vision. Many kids don’t realize that they are even having issues with this because they have grown up that way, so they accept it as normal! Vision can change drastically up until puberty, so it’s important to get regular checkups to make sure they are seeing the best they can. Once a year is recommended for kids under 12.
If you are having trouble identifying a possible issue, it can be worth your time to ask a professional. Often, our children’s teachers are the most valuable to ask. They spend hours a day with our children, and tend to notice patterns in their learning behaviors or areas of weakness before we can. If the teacher hasn’t noticed anything, or if they are not in school yet, your local child development center or family doctor can help point you in the right direction.
3.Read out loud to them
Sometimes being able to sit back, relax and listen to a story can really spark a love of reading. As they listen, it gives them the opportunity to let the story come alive in their imagination, without things like having to sound out words slowing them down. Once this love of having stories come alive in their head is sparked, you might find that they are more motivated to read more themselves!
4.Choose books based on their interests
You have to admit, many of the “easy reader” books that are provided in schools can make even the most avid reader yawn. Try raising the excitement level of reading for your child by helping them choose books that they will LOVE.
-Do they have a favourite movie or show? Find the book that goes along with it!
-Many children have a love for animals, especially kittens or puppies. Fun information books about animals can really spark a love for reading; bonus if it’s full of cute pictures!
-Simple science or space books are another topic that kids love. Let reading be an adventure in learning more about their favourite things!
-Another guaranteed hit is a simple knock knock joke book! Take turns reading jokes, and make it fun!
5.Choose simpler or shorter books
Sometimes the thought of making it all the way through a book (even if it’s not a long book to us) is overwhelming to a newer reader. You might find that as your child spends time sounding out a few pages, they are tired and ready to give up before the story is over. Try having some shorter books on hand to build their confidence; the more entertaining or funny, the better!
If your child’s lack of motivation to read comes from the fact that they just can’t sit still, try something new! Here’s a few suggestions to add some action:
-Have your child act out the book as you read it to them, and make sure to “do the voices” to make it even more interesting. This can be fun in the living room, outside, or even when they are in the bath using the bath toys to act it out!
-Use a simple cookbook and have them help you read the recipe as you make it together.
-Go on a scavenger hunt using a nature book. Use the book to help identify flowers, or even constellations, having them read a few words, or a sentence along the way.
-Have them set out their crayons/pencil crayons and draw a picture as you read the story to them. They can draw the characters, the scenery, or even just use colors that the story reminds them of. This is another great opportunity for them to use their imagination and really spark that love for stories and reading!
Try these strategies over the next few weeks and see how your child’s interest in reading grows!