Are you a working mum? Love to read with your child but there just isn’t enough time? This may just help make you feel a little better.
So, your child starts school and you get a letter sent home telling you that you should read with your child at least 10 minutes a day as often as possible. Really? How do I do that when I’ve battled through traffic to get to the after school club to pick them up making sure I’m not a minute late, or else I’ll get charged a pound a minute? Now, that’s ten pounds if I’m stuck in traffic and I’m ten minutes late! What a rip off! I digress… Sorry, any opportunity to have a moan, right?
So, I’m now at home and it’s 6 o’clock. I’ve got two little girls, so that’s double the trouble. We talk about school and what they did, what they enjoyed and what they didn’t enjoy. Meanwhile, I’m warming their dinner, getting them washed up and ready to eat. I serve their food and listen to them complain about how boring the food is, “Do we have to eat this?!” Huh! I’ve had enough already and after an exhausting day at work, I really want to get them to bed.
So, they finish up their food, have a quick bath and it’s time for bed. I manage to squeeze in a quick bedtime story for the two of them, get the toddler into her cot and tell them goodnight. I am now on my last leg. I’m knackered!
I was supposed to hear my child read, wasn’t I? Oh gosh. And when was I supposed to do that?
We are told about the importance of reading with our children, making a ‘special time’ just for reading without any interruptions. It should be an every-day occurrence, some quality time, one-to-one. So, maybe I can manage this once in a while, maybe a couple of times, I could stretch it to three times a week… maybe. As a working mum, it’s so difficult.
I must admit though, my four year old, (going on 5) is reading rather well and I don’t think it has that much to do with sitting and reading with her, (to be fair, I should do it more often than I do). Here are a few tips for reading with your child that I think may help.
1. I do not read often, however, I do get text messages and emails on my phone which my daughter loves to try to read. She will pick up my phone and unlock it, open up my messages for me and try to read it. I don’t discourage her, as long as it’s not a romantic text from their daddy I think it’s good that she’s giving it a go. In my opinion, she’s being exposed to modern ways of communication. It’s still reading, isn’t it?
2. Shopping – yes, you can use shopping as a way of getting some reading, even writing, out of your child. We often search the cupboards and the fridge together to compile a shopping list. My daughter will write egg, milk, pasta and other words I feel she can write. Then I will complete the list and ask her to double check it. I will call out the words and ask if they are on the list or ask her to read it back to me. She’s still reading, right?
3. Not only are we reading and writing shopping lists but when cooking together, my daughter will read a simple recipe to me. Not only does this help with her reading skills, but she is able to relate what she is reading to real life experiences.
4. I’m quite lucky I have a toddler actually, because my daughter will read to her little sister and she really seems to enjoy doing it. She will sit her little sister down and pretend to be the teacher. How cute! And what’s even better… they don’t need me!
5. My sister loves to watch TV and when she visits will watch TV with subtitles on. My husband hates it, but actually, my daughter has tried to read along. Since she can hear the actors on the screen saying the words that are in the subtitles, it reinforces her word recognition. I reckon it’s not a bad excuse to let the kids watch a little more TV! Haha!
6. Journeys in the car or even walking are also great for getting in some reading. I have found this (100 Things for Little Children to do on a Journey-Activity Cards) a wonderful resource to use for kids in the car, works great, once you’re tired of playing ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with d’.
7. During the school run in the morning, as we are walking out the door, when we usually notice the junk mail lying on your doormat, we will pick them up and take them with us. It’s another great way of looking at text in another format other than story books and my daughter will try and read it, using images on leaflets to work out what it is about. We know that reading isn’t just about reading text, but using other cues such as pictures and images. What a great way to practise these skills!
8. I used to talk to my daughter all the time. Now, she won’t stop talking! My husband and I never hesitate to use ‘big’ words around her or when we’re talking to her. She will ask what they mean and we will explain them to her. We have found that she is able to read bigger words and understand them because they are a part of her vocabulary. So, don’t be afraid to talk to them, it’s good for them. The problem is when they don’t know when to stop!
9. Lastly, we take it in turns. Take some of the weight off your shoulders and get daddy to do some of the reading with them. Yes, they can do it, give them a chance!
So, I would like to conclude by saying that us busy, working mums may not have the luxury of finding some uninterrupted, one-to-one time to read with our child but there are plenty of other ways that we can fit in reading. Words are all around us and there is text everywhere we look. Just open your eyes and have a look!