No one can dispute the importance of reading with your child and how vital this is as part of their education. Creating a love for books is truly special. A love, which you hope will last with them forever.
Supporting your child to read is a time to treasure, like listening to the first sentence they read to you. The pride that you feel is immense. However it is not without its challenges; mainly in the form of sitting on your hands, lips pursed, summoning every bit of patience you possess while it takes half an hour to sound out ‘dad’. A word, which the day previous, we knew by heart.
So, if the latter is familiar to you, then maybe you will appreciate my guide to supporting your child to read.
1) First and most importantly, when you are unsure of how to approach a particular parenting situation, consult the world-wide web for some advice. There’s an abundance of information out there which will ultimately confuse you, but after a few hours of reading and ignoring your children, you will be sure to have found a fool-proof approach. Most likely, you will have convinced yourself that your child is stupid and you are completely inept as a parent, but you will be hopeful that if you follow the advice of the internet then you will be sure to be on the winning path. Proceed to throw every last bit of yourself into devising a plan, obviously based on all the information you have digested, where you will spend hours making flash cards, alphabet bingo and filling every last wall space around the house with laminated pictures, words and letters of the alphabet. Your life will have been structured for the next few weeks which includes allocated slots for many, many, educational games and the practicing of new sounds.
2) Ensure that the environment around you encourages a love for books and promotes reading. This will mean getting all the old books that nobody has looked at for years, or will ever look at again, out of old dusty boxes and squeezing them back into the book shelf. This will help develop a curiosity and eagerness to learn. Alternatively, you can watch in despair as they throw the books out of the bookshelves, make towers with them, throw them at each other and have the odd p*ss on. Momentarily think about the joy of taking all three children to the library, then slap yourself in the face for thinking they could ever behave ‘library-appropriate’, sans shouting, squabbling and inappropriate loud comments.
3) Set a good example by reading yourself. You may think you don’t have enough time for reading, a long-lost delightful pastime, but you know what they say, ‘You have to make time’. So, whenever you can squeeze 20 minutes in with a cuppa and a good novel, sit down amidst the chaos and show them how thoroughly lovely it is to sit down quietly and let your head drift away to wherever the words want to take you. They’ll be too busy drawing on the walls, dancing naked in the window or sword fighting with the dogs to even notice at first, but once they do, oh boy will they be interested. They can then fight over who gets to sit next to you and enjoy the peaceful moment of reading a book.
4) Start Fred talking at every opportunity you get. As well as encouraging your child to recognise the sounds in different words you will also look and sound like a right arse as you gesticulate that frog jumping on the sounds of each segmented word that comes out of your mouth.
5) Wonder if there should be some sort of degree equivalent qualification to get parents through this sh**. I mean there are 26 words in the alphabet, 44 sounds and 150 ways to spell these sounds. IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE *see ‘Choona Gate*. Then there’s the pictorial representations that go with these 44 sounds, which you must memorise to jog their little memories when they mix up the special friends that make one sound. HEAD EXPLODES.
6) Consider moving to Spain where the language seems a little more straight forward, where the 24 sounds are made up of the 26 letters of the alphabet. You convince yourself that the kids minds are young and absorbent so they will learn quickly and then teach you. Plus its sunnier and the Hayfever doesn’t seem an issue out there. It’s win, win.
7) Keep calm when there is little enthusiasm and the silliness kicks in. Very often words and letters that have been learnt by heart will become nonsense. For example ‘biff’ becomes ‘bit… hahahah’, or the word ‘the’ becomes ‘blah’. Successful methods of keeping calm include sitting on ones hands, big deep breaths, a teeny bribe of a Shopkin and visualising the big f**k off bottle of wine that is waiting for you post bedtime.
Keep telling yourself that this will all be worth it and that one day they will read and enjoy books just as much as you do.
Stay strong and remember, there is life after Biff, Chip and Kipper, somewhere, out there!