As part of our association with Oxford University Press, Camilla – founder of The Bear Can Read shared her tried and tested ways she uses when reading with her three children (ages 2, 5 an 8) on Oxford Owl. We thrilled to share her insights here too!
You’ve done it. We’re here – the last school term. You’re in the final lap of an unprecedented academic year. It’s been an amazing effort. For me, the silver lining is that I feel more in tune with my children’s education than ever before. I know (painfully) that my little girl is learning long division, that she’s thinking about living things in science, and I can see that the time I put in listening to her reading has a huge impact. To be honest, during the very chaotic days of home schooling (I have three little ones at home so there was a lot of chaos) sometimes something had to give, but it was never reading.
We still don’t know the full impact that COVID-19 has had on our children’s education, but we do know that the more children read, the better equipped they are for school and, more significantly , life. So now more than ever, it’s important to keep them reading during this last term and over the summer holidays. Here are 5 easy ideas to keep the reading momentum up at home.
1. Make a morning of it
Kids love waking up to a surprise. The first couple of hours of the day is when children tend to be the happiest, so make a plan for the morning. Get them excited about reading with a book-themed breakfast. The night before, choose a book at the right reading level for each child and set them on the breakfast table – then enjoy reading in the morning with their favourite breakfast: banana pancakes, waffles, eggs… push the boat out.
2. Let bedtime be 20 minutes later
Most children will do anything to stay up a little later. So, let them stay up 20 minutes later if they snuggle up and read to you. Especially if younger siblings are already in bed, it’s the perfect opportunity to find some quiet time to listen to your little one reading.
3. Take it in turns
Some children find reading aloud intimidating so share the reading with them. Read one page each, taking it in turns. The new Word Sparks series is absolutely perfect for this as there is a page for an adult to read and then a page for the child. These books are available for all the Book Band levels, so you can find one matched to your child’s reading stage.
4. Make a reading den
One for the weekend or school holidays , but when you have a free morning or afternoon, make a reading den. Task the kids with finding all the pillows, grab a large sheet and some chairs and make them into a den. Everyone gets to bring their favourite book, so take it in turns to listen to each other read inside your cosy space.
5. Switch it up
Some children associate bringing books home in the book bag as ‘homework’ and as a task to do (or to avoid). It can be hard to motivate them to read when they feel they have to do it. This is where The Bear Can Read can help. The Bear Can Read send bundles of phonics activities and books (including the new Word Sparks series), matched to your child’s reading level, right to your front door. Not only will your little one love to see a colourful package addressed to them arriving, but they’ll be thrilled to rip open the box to find it brimming with new books, activities and treats, all selected for their reading stage. New subscribers using the code Oxford10 can take advantage of a 50% discount, with the first box only £10.
Aim for at least 10 minutes listening to your child read to you every day, but if they’re not motivated one day, read to them instead – or get them to choose an eBook from Oxford Owl’s free eBook library. Try not to make reading a chore by enforcing it, but instead get creative with these reading activities. They will soon see it as a treat where you get to spend one-on-one time together escaping into another world. With a little encouragement, it may just be a summer of travel and adventures for them after all.