Our world is a busy one with many things happening every second. Things that distract us and divert our attention can stimulate multiple senses like sight, smell and sound. Children are by nature more sensitive to these distractions.
If you notice that your child cannot keep their focus when you are reading a short story to them, especially if your child is younger, you might benefit from the following suggestions.
How to Retain your Child’s Interest and Attention in Reading
1. Let your child choose the book they like
Books that are chosen by adults may not necessarily be the same type of books that children will be interested in. The content could be uninteresting or too difficult for children to understand. The topic, level of difficulty, type of illustrations and functions such as lift-the-flaps or pop-ups differ between books.
By letting your child choose their own book from the bookstore or library, you’ll not only get to know their current interest but also have a better chance of them being interested to read the book from start to end and make them a better reader.
Giving your child the power and autonomy of making small decisions such as these makes them feel like they have control of their choices as well.
2. Read to your child frequently
Incorporating reading into daily life and making it part of your child’s routine plays a part in making them a better reader. Reading is not limited to books – you can encourage your child to read short signs, posters or even restaurant menus. Expose your child to more than just books to build up their focus and attention for longer stories.
3. Read books that are age-appropriate
A misconception that some parents have is that reading books that are suited to a higher age range than their child’s age will improve their reading. The fact is that attempting to read books that are beyond the child’s current capability will discourage the child and make them frustrated.
To encourage fluency in children, use books that they are familiar with and can read fluently on their own to build up their confidence before attempting other books.
4. Enrol your child in reading programmes for kids instead of a phonics class
Some parents tend to turn to phonics classes to give their children a head start in reading. While these classes cover the basics of letters and sounds, reading programmes for kids are more comprehensive and cover a wider set of skills apart from phonics.
There are other essential skills of reading that your child will develop when they attend a reading programme. With qualified and experienced educators facilitating creative in-class activities with songs, rhymes, poems and more, your child will be likelier to be engaged and have a heightened interest in reading.
The difference between phonics classes and an integrated reading programme backed by research such as the MindChamps Reading Programme is that phonics is introduced alongside the reading activities – instead of being taught in isolation. Through this method, children are introduced to the sounds of words by blending graphemes and phonemes. This enables them to better understand the meaning and context of each word throughout the reading process, and to empower them to feel more confident in expressing themselves.
It is natural for children, especially the younger ones, to be easily distracted when reading. Instead of feeling frustrated and helpless, try out our suggestions above to see if it works for your child. Reading is an essential skill that when mastered, will stay for life. Therefore, it is important that your child has a positive and healthy attitude towards reading and learning.
Written by Jamie Koh
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