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Parenting, Toddlers

How to make learning to read a BREEZE for your kids!

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
August 3rd, 2017
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This post is brought to you by ABC Reading Eggs but is all my own words and story.

I’m not sure about you, but one of the biggest surprises about motherhood for me was the kind of parent I thought I’d be as opposed to the one I actually am. I remember when my daughter was first born, I would look down at her tiny little face and think about all the exciting stuff we’d do together when she was a bit older. We’d spend days hanging at the zoo. We’d do music classes and ballet and she’d learn to speak Italian and English at the same time. We’d play blocks and restaurants and Barbies and trucks and it’d be a festival of love and good times always.

Nope. That’s not how it went at all.

The good ol' Gymbaroo parachute.

The good ol’ Gymbaroo parachute.

I have worked from home since my kids were born and I quickly learned that by the time you get a couple of hours of work done, feed them, pack their bag, get them ready, co-ordinate nap times and drive to your destination, half of the day is gone. Spending the day at home with little kids is also more boring that I realised, which makes me feel really guilty to admit, but it’s the truth (for me anyway). So for us, it was Gymbaroo once a week and whatever one-off activities we could cram in between editing deadlines and naps.

There was (and still is) one thing that I’ve always made time for with my kids and that is reading. I can’t think of any education-based skill more important and aside from the practical aspects, reading really is magical on so many levels. From as far back as I can remember, reading was one of my absolute favourite things to do, and not only did I learn tonnes of stuff from books, it also taught me how to use my imagination, connect with others and more often than not, just took me away to another place.

There is seriously NOTHING better than when your kid starts to read on their own…it’s like magic is happening before your eyes. The thing is, the more you can do at home the quicker and easier it’ll be for your little mates, so if you haven’t yet ventured into the literary waters with them, don’t fear. Here are some tips that’ll make it WAY easier.

Get theatrical: Here’s what I reckon – if it’s boring to read, it’s probably boring to listen to. You’ve got to make it entertaining for them, especially if they’re not fans of sitting still for more than 30 seconds. My son’s fave book was The Very Cranky Bear by Nick Bland, mostly because he loved the silly voices I would give the characters. He would laugh his little head off through the whole book and it was just bloody delightful – even after the five billionth time. Look for books with lots of character interactions and go for Academy Award winning gold.

ABC Reading Eggs is educational AND fun! Brilliantly sneaky.

ABC Reading Eggs is educational AND fun! Brilliantly sneaky.

Use FUN programs that are backed by research: The great thing here is that you don’t have to do the hard work yourself. I love ABC Reading Eggs, which is designed by experienced teachers to engage your child in reading via online games, activities and e-books specific to their age and ability. With a fun rewards system and a library of over 2500 books tailored to every stage from pre-school to independent readers, it’s a real game changer. I adore this program because of its sneaky ability to get your kids interested and excited about reading without them even realising it –  and it WORKS. Unlike lots of other reading apps out there, ABC Reading Eggs is actually based on solid scientific research. My kids were both begging to do it and I gladly handed over their iPads, guilt-free. You can start a special 5 week trial of the program here.

Say “yes” to books: Navigating your way through the shops while trying to avoid the toy aisle entirely can be tricky, but is often necessary to avoid the “I WANT THAT!” toy-induced tantrum. Saying “no” to a toy can be made sweeter by saying “yes” to a book, so try and find something related to the toy they’re hung up on and get the hell outta there. We’ve got LOTS of Spider Man books at our place.

Choose books they can relate to: When choosing books for your rugrats, look for ones that mirror the experiences they’re currently going through and chances are they’ll be more interested. For example, my kids were mad for toilet training books like Toilet Time when they were transitioning out of nappies and even though they were really little, it’s never too young to start. Books about starting school or kindergarten, friendships and welcoming a new baby into the family are all great tools to help with big milestones.

Use it as bonding time: At the end of the day, what our kids really want is to spend time with US. They want our undivided attention and even though it feels like finding that time can be a scramble sometimes, they really do need it. Reading time is perfect for this, especially if you’ve got more than one babe. Pick a special spot; a bean bag, a rocking chair or even their bed, snuggle up and spend that time just with them. They’ll love having you all to themselves and you’ll have killed two birds with one stone – education AND bonding. Go you!

ABC Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program for kids ages 3-13. Don’t miss their special 5 week FREE trial by signing up to www.readingeggs.com.au/try before 27 August 2017. Happy reading!

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