One of the most important things to do is read and write with your kids every single day. It’s also one of the hardest things to fit into a chaotic schedule, let alone getting the little monkeys settled down to be engaged in these type of activities. It takes lots of practice and patience.
Start them early:
Everyday, even when the kids were young and didn’t even go to school, we would sit at the table for “homework time.” I would put the babies in the highchairs with some sort of toy or something to occupy them (they were too little for crayons yet). The boys and I would sit and color, read, and write stories together. Make it fun, but don’t force it.
One of my favorite keepsakes is pictures that they drew and I wrote the stories that they told me at the bottom of the pictures. This is definitely getting them ready for preschool, fun, and time well spent together. It is also training them for the upcoming years when they have to sit and do homework. Start them early and hopefully it will be easier when it’s homework time for real.
Mom bonus: I could get some of my own reading and writing done during this time.
Keep a routine:
Do it everyday at about the same time, like after snack time or right after dinner.
Mom bonus: I get peace and quiet a little bit everyday. A calm before the chaos.
Drop everything and read:
Reading doesn’t just have to be before bed. Take a break from dishes or laundry and sit down and read. Turn off the cartoons and read. We have books everywhere (and I mean they are everywhere, like breadcrumb trails through a forest) and they are readily available.
Show them it is important to you:
Show them that reading and writing is important to you. Turn off the laptop, phones, and all the other devices that distract us and pick up a good ol’ fashioned book or pen and paper. One of my favorite things is to take a book and sit outside and read in my chair while they are running around playing. Sometimes I will sit out there and write. Even though they are running, they are watching- and kids are little copy cats. The more they see you reading and writing, the more they will do it.
And eventually, it will all pay off. Bradley will actually sit down on his own and read and write for fun. It just melts my heart.
Bradley was working on his homework at the dining room table. I sat down next to him with my notebook/journal and started writing. He kept glancing over at my page. I’m sure the page filled with cursive writing looks very intriguing to a second grader. He finally asked, “What are you writing, Mom?”
“I’m journaling. I like to write about my day and the things I did. I like to write stories about you guys (my kids). I also write about my ideas and sometimes I just make up stories and write them down.”
It was so nice and peaceful sitting side by side with my son writing and I was really enjoying “the moment”. THEN the little ones came bounding in and the peace and quiet was broken. I silently complained to myself but got up to find them something to do. We got out the paper and I even busted out a couple new boxes of crayons.
It was amazing. It was like heaven. We were ALL sitting at the table writing, coloring, or reading. Everybody was busy and engaged with minimal chaos. And these moments, even though they never last as long as I wish they would, are good. It’s progress. They are learning.
I gave myself a little pat on the back. All this hard work that we have been putting in for years is paying off! They are reading and loving it. They are writing and loving it!And I secretly hope this will last through all of their homework years. It’s a start. I’m sure I will have times where no one will sit and do their “real” homework when the time comes, but at least we are on the right path.
How do you get your lil’ ones reading?