Reading and writing are core skills for any young person to possess; however even in developed English speaking countries, kids today are found to have lower than average reading and writing skills. This is not surprising when you consider how heavily children today rely on digital technology to do the thinking for them. Just the other day, I caught my oldest daughter too lazy to correct her spelling mistake on her Word document. When I questioned her about it, her reply was simply, “It’s ok, mom. The computer will spell check it for me.”
The key to improving our kids’ literacy level is to develop their interest in reading and writing from a young age. If you find your kid struggling with reading and writing or simply lack the interest, give the following tips a try.
Go on small adventures and write about them
One of the easiest way to get your kids to start writing is to inspire them with stimulating activities - be it a day trip to the museum to see the latest dinosaur exhibition or a trip to the zoo. Kids naturally have good imagination so by taking them to places or doing activities that stirs away from their everyday routine will be sure to put their mind into creative overdrive. Encourage your kids to carry a notebook with them so they can get into the habit of recording all the highlights from their day. Help them to collate all their notes, photos and collectables from the trip into a scrapbook and turn it into an on-going project!
Make a list - any list!
If your kid is really not keen on writing long stories then start them off with smaller, less daunting tasks. Start by getting them to help you write the weekly grocery shopping list for your household. This is also a good way to show your kids how useful and relevant writing is to everyday lives. Try to make it a relevant task so that it becomes a habit. For example, the next time you take your kids camping, get them to make a list of things they think they should bring along to the trip.
Get into the blockbusters
While my husband and I are book worms and each have a large collection of books at home, our kids prefer to spend their down time in front of the TV or computer. My youngest daughter recently saw all the Harry Potter films for the first time with her cousin and fall madly in love instantaneously with the magical world of Hogwarts. She then begged me to get her all the Harry Potter books and have since been spending countless hours locked away in her room with them. With so many adaptations of books to films taking place, selecting books that have been turned into films is a good way to get your kids into reading, especially if they’re a fan of the blockbuster hit! Check your local libraries for a list of books that have been adapted into films that would be suitable for young readers.
Pen a few letters and postcards
Making friends from different parts of the world and sharing details of your life and home country with them is an exciting way to get your kids into writing and broaden their views about the world. Or you could work with your kids together to create nice greeting cards or postcards with personalised messages for family members that live abroad who would appreciate hearing from your kids.
Beyond the family couch
To encourage your kids to read more, it is important to make them realise that reading is enjoyable and something that they can do no matter where they are. The next time you take your kid out for a swim at the local swimming pools or out playing soccer at the park, remember to bring along a book that you can read with them during break time. Once your kid see books as a portable entertainment, you’ll see them carrying one around with them when they go to the beach, hanging out in a tree house or camping in a tent with a flashlight.
Bring stories to life
Books provide a wealth of knowledge. If you can demonstrate this to your kids from a young age then they will be more likely to use reading as a way to look for answers on their own. I remember when my oldest daughter started getting into drawing, I got her some books on basic drawing techniques. She now has accumulated a small collection of art books on drawing and has even started developing an interest in oil painting. Keep an eye out on kids activities that interest your little ones and integrate reading into it.
Look for more ideas to combine fun kids activities with reading and writing at our ActiveActivities directory. Take the first step tonight by reading your kids their favourite bedtime story.
Grace Harawira is a thirty-something Mum and all round creative type. She cares for her three young children in their Wellington home, in between blogging for ActiveActivities and working on a novel she has had in the works for years. She hopes she can inspire other Mums to carry on following their dreams, as well as raising kids that get lots of exercise and quality family time.