Reading is one of the most important activities that you can encourage your children to do. It’s entertaining, thought provoking, and absolutely critical to success later in life.
Being a proficient reader by the third grade is an integral factor in a child’s future success. Reading for kids is not just a fun pastime. It is the gateway to learning about other people, places, and ideas, with limitless possibilities.
Why Reading for Kids Is Important?
Develops Vocabulary and Language Skills
Before your kids are able to read on their own, it’s important to nurture a love for books early on. Reading aloud to them at a young age is a great way to promote verbal communication skills between parent and child.
As kids get older, we speak to them on a daily basis, but the vocabulary and topics that they are exposed to are limited and often repetitive. Reading books will improve your child’s vocabulary and expose them to different types of sentence structure, writing styles, and ways to express themselves.
Not only will your children’s reading comprehension improve over time, this will also have a positive effect on their writing and communication skills. For children who are bilingual or learning a second language, reading is an important component of attaining or maintaining fluency.
Encourages a Thirst for Knowledge
There are books written about any topic imaginable, many in a wide variety of reading levels.
When reading books, your kids will be introduced to a wide variety of topics, cultures, and ideas. They will realize how much knowledge is out there to be discovered and delve further into the subjects that interest them the most.
In many cases, they will be enjoying the content of the book so much that they won’t even realize they are gaining so much knowledge about a particular topic.
Children have a very narrow understanding of the world around them. This is due to the limited number of experiences that they have encountered, based on the circumstances in which they grew up.
Reading books about different types of people who have had a wide range of experiences allow kids to not only appreciate diversity but also to understand what it may be like being in someone else’s shoes.
Doing so will help them appreciate and empathize with people who have very little in common with them and help them develop into more well-rounded individuals.
The Best Form of Entertainment
In the current age, technology has become the go-to for entertainment for adults and kids. Although TV shows and kids apps like these can be a great resource for learning, books are a better choice every time.
Rather than spending hours in front of a screen, encourage your kids to consider books as the default source of entertainment. Studies show that in families where reading was emphasized, the children are more likely to read independently and develop a passion for books in the long run.
Creates a Bond
There are multiple ways that reading creates a bond between parent and child. Starting from infancy, reading aloud promotes closeness and intimacy through spending time together and being physically close.
As your child gets older, you can continue to read aloud or read the same book separately and talk about the parts that you enjoyed the most.
Use reading as an opportunity engage and interact with your child, asking them about their thoughts on topics covered in the book or connecting the story to everyday life.
Exercises Their Brain
Reading requires more brain power than watching TV. When our kids read books, they utilize the part of their brain that deals with multi-sensory integrations, making connections between words and visual thinking.
For beginner readers, illustrations can be a useful tool to help them grasp the narrative and gain better comprehension. In the case of more advanced readers, they use their brain when gathering context clues to help them figure out words or phrases that are unfamiliar.
Reading also stimulates critical thinking, spurring kids to make connections between the book and real life and to form opinions about the story.
Reading a book requires focus and concentration, which are essential skills to work on, even for toddlers who have trouble sitting still.
Consistently reading books will help your kids practice quieting their minds and their bodies to focus on a task for a set period of time.
By taking away distractions and giving them space to read and understand, their attention spans and ability to concentration will greatly improve over time.
Sets Them up for Success in School and Life
There have been numerous studies that indicate reading books to children at an early age has a lasting effect on their success in school, which often directly correlates with success in the workplace. But the benefits are not just limited to academic success.
Reading is a long-term learning experience that promotes growth, which will result in your children becoming more effective people overall – better spouses, bosses, and friends.
Promotes Creativity and Imagination
When reading a story, our children create an image of how they perceive the story to look in their minds, using creativity and imagination. Every person sees a different image in their mind, and it may change each time the same book is read.
Reading also introduces new worlds, whether real or fictional, that we have never been a part of before. Immersing in the book allows your kids to imagine new experiences and scenarios that they never thought possible.
They will be able to bring these ideas into their play time and use their creativity to go beyond the limits brought on by their everyday lives.
Where To Start
Now that you are aware of the multitude of benefits that reading can provide for your kids, what’s the next step?
If your child has not yet developed a love for reading, it’s not too late to start.
1. Make Reading a Choice, Not a Chore
Don’t make reading a mandatory task or assigned chore. Encourage and remind your kids to read, but let them make the ultimate decision on when to read and for how long. Feeling like they are being compelled to read will inevitably take the joy out of the experience.
If you have a reluctant reader, try to figure out what the root cause of the reluctance is. If your kids are struggling with words, find a few books below their reading level to instill confidence in recognizing the words they DO know. Gradually transition to harder books until they are more eager to read voluntarily.
Another alternative is to try audiobooks. Hearing another person reading confidently is a great way to experience fluency, and they will be able to enjoy the book without having to stumble through it.
If the content is the issue, and they find reading to be boring, introduce them to different types of reading material (see below).
2. Suggest a Variety of Reading Material
Reading can come in so many forms and every type has something unique to offer the reader. If your kids are having trouble finding joy in reading, it may be because they haven’t found a genre that fits their interests.
Traditional books come in many genres, including mystery, history, biographies, fantasy, science fiction, and more. Some books are written in unique and fun styles, such as choose your own adventure books, diary novel, or epistolary novel.
If you are looking for reading material that is more visually stimulating, try a graphic novel, a magazine, or a travel book. Books are also great resources for learning a new skill. Joke books, magic books, and cook books are great examples of these.
Don’t forget to show your kids the practical side of reading as well. Enlist their help in reading out the grocery list at the store or ask them to read recipe instructions when cooking in the kitchen together. All types of reading counts:
3. Experience Books Firsthand
As your kids read more books, they may start to imagine what it would be like if they were characters in the books. A great way to support their love for reading would be to help them depict their favorite parts of their book.
Look up a recipe for butter beer (Harry Potter) or Turkish Delight (The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) and make it together. Start planting a garden together after reading The Secret Garden.
Another fun way to celebrate finishing a book is watching the movie interpretation of it. Seeing beloved characters come to life on screen is an easy way to enhance the enjoyment of reading.
4. Be an Example
You are the main person that your kids look up to. Kids love copying their parents and doing the things they observe their parents doing on a daily basis.
Don’t just tell your kids to read often; show them by doing it yourself. Actions speak louder than words.
When you model your own love of reading and books and show them the joy it brings to your life, they will be inclined to feel the same way.
5. Set Aside Time
For a child with a busy schedule and so many other fun screen-filled activities to choose from, it can be difficult to purposely reserve time for reading.
Make this decision a little easier by creating dedicated time that is just for reading. This can be just before bed, right after homework, or whatever time works best for your family’s busy schedule. This time can be used for read aloud time with your child or independent reading.
6. Bring Books to Life
Finding real life connections to the books that your kids are reading will extend the joy of the reading experience.
Did your children just finish a book about life on the farm? Take them to visit a local farm and experience what they read about firsthand. Reading a book about planets and space can turn into a trip to the planetarium.
For a more memorable excursion, take a family trip out of the country, like visiting London after finishing the Harry Potter series.
7. Make Books Accessible
One of my favorite activities to do as a child was to go to the library. The vast number of books that were at my disposal made me so excited to read.
Find a great library in your area to take your children and let them experience the magic of limitless possibility. Sign your kids up for their own library card and encourage them to take ownership of their reading adventure.
Start a small collection of books at home so that your kids will always have books at their fingertips. Visit a bookstore, browse online, or sign up for a monthly book subscription. Getting access to new books on a regular basis will keep reading exciting and fun.
8. Start a Book Club
Having other people help you stay accountable is a great motivation to read more and to discover new books you may not have otherwise.
Encourage your kids to start a book club, either with their peers or with you. Choose a book everyone would enjoy and set a deadline for getting together and discussing what each person thought of the book. The tangible due date is a great incentive to stay on track and read on a regular basis.
The Bottom Line
Fostering a love for reading in your kids is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.
Reading books can transport them anywhere they could imagine, and the benefits that it provides for them in the short and long term are innumerable.
Use these tips to actively encourage reading to be an enjoyable part of their lives, and it will be worth the effort.
At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.
Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.
One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.
When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.
So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.
Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day
This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.
Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.
When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.
Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity
One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.
Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.
An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.
When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.
Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day
Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.
We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.
By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.
Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment
While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.
I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.
You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.
Con #1: We Move a Lot Less
When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.
Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.
Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.
Con #2: Less Human Interaction
One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.
Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.
Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.
This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.
While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.
Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment
Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.
This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.
For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.
Con #4: Unique Distractions
Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.
For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.
To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.
Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.
We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.