Reading habits in school aged children

It is a integral  part of your child’s overall health and well-being. Lack of reading skill in children lead to  emotional and behavioural problems later in life. The skills your child learns early in life will help him well into adulthood.
Some suggestions for development of good reading skills are :

  • Read to your child Make reading part of every day. Even just a few minutes will make a difference. It’s also a great way to create a special bond by spending time with your child.
  • Continue to read out loud to your child even when he can read alone.
  • Read books that are a bit above your child’s reading level, as long as they are books that he can still understand and enjoy.
  • Read with your children. Children who are learning to read need to practice. If your child is doing well, regular reading at home is a chance for her to show off. If your child is having trouble, it provides a safe place to practice with someone she trusts.
  • Be a role model. Your children should see you enjoying reading. If he sees you and other family members reading books, newspapers, and magazines, he’ll learn that reading is important, fun and valuable.
  • Consider creating a special reading place in your home that is quiet and cozy. Keep books close to this area.
  • Use rhymes, games and songs. Singing traditional songs and telling stories can all enhance your child’s learning opportunities. This can also be a great way to expose your child to other languages.
  • Ask the experts for help. Teachers and librarians are good sources of advice for books that are right for your child’s age and reading level. Bookstore staff can be helpful too.
  • Visit the library, and create one at home. Get your child a library card as soon as you can .Make library visits part of your routine. If there are more books than toys in the house, your child is more likely to pick up a book when there’s nothing to do.
  • Limit screen time. Create time for reading by limiting the amount of time your child spends watching television or playing computer and video games.
  • Give your child some control over who reads and when. It’s important to support your child if he decides to take on a longer book. Take turns reading, perhaps alternating paragraphs or pages. Or you can “act out” the story—your child can read the dialogue, and you can narrate by reading the rest of the text.
  • Give your child a choice of books. Present a few books that are the right type and length for your child, and let him choose. If you don’t present a few options, he may not make good choices.
  • Keep a record of what your child is reading. Maintain a reading diary
  • Practice writing. Reading and writing go together. Children can practice their writing skills by making lists, keeping a journal, making a catalogue of their collections, or writing to friends and family, including e-mailing and texting (with parent supervision).
  • If your child has trouble reading, choose stories that she can relate to. Look for stories they know or that offer experiences they can relate to or illustrations they recognize.
  • Focus on meaning. Reading well is about understanding meaning, not just knowing how to say the words.
  • If your child is stuck on a word, don’t just make him recite it. Enculcate the habit of dictionary  and ask questions.
  • Help your child figure out the word by re-reading the rest of the page, or looking at pictures.
  • Try not to interrupt unless the mistake affects your child’s ability to understand the text.
  • At the end of the paragraph or chapter, go back to words your child didn’t know or had trouble sounding out and review them together.
  • If your child is an impatient reader, choose books that have movement. Books with short chapters encourage children to keep reading. Use sound effects and different voices to help keep the story interesting.
  • Have fun with word play. Tell jokes with puns, and play games that involve words, like Scrabble, Boggle and hangman. Do crossword puzzles together.
  • Opportunities to read are everywhere. Encourage your child to read street signs, the back of the cereal box, or the sports pages of the daily newspaper. Your child might also enjoy reading non-fiction or comic books. Time on the Internet can also involve reading, but always supervise time spent online.
  • Monitor text media. Tell them to use a formal style of texting and monitor them.

Conquering fear in children

Fear is a normal phenomenon in the childhood .What seems harmless to adults is scary for the children.With understanding, patience, and reassurance you can help your child deal with her fears.

Fear factor varies according to the age of the child:
Babies (8 to 12 months old)

  • Babies start knowing the difference between what they know and what they don’t know. When the known face leaves the room they tend to have separartion anxiety . Strangers may cause your baby distress on and off throughout her first two years.
  • Older babies are often frightened by everyday situations that didn’t bother them when they were younger. They may become of afraid of people they don’t know or new situations.

Toddlers and preschoolers (2 to 4 years old)

  • Young children have vivid imaginations. They may find it hard to understand the difference between reality and fantasy.
  • By age 3 years, your child should be able to separate from you with little clinging or crying, and even the most fearful 3-year-old should adapt to a new situation within a few weeks. If not, mention it to her doctor.
  • A toddler will conjure up imaginary dangers out of shadows in a dark room or a mask covering a familiar face. Everyday situations may frighten him, such as bedtime, or going to the doctor. He may fear things that make a loud noise he can’t understand, like a vacuum cleaner or flushing toilet. To an adult, toddlers’ fears may be rational or irrational. Either way, it’s important to take your child’s fears seriously. Never make fun of her for being afraid.
  • At this age, children are concrete thinkers (they believe what you say in a literal way). They can become frightened by remarks or jokes from adults.  Be mindful what you say in front of your child.
  • Your child may have nightmares that wake him. If this happens, he’ll need your reassurance that the things he saw in his dream are not real. Talk to him and stay close until he falls asleep.
  • Night terrors are not the same as nightmares. Children who experience a night terror may wake up screaming and thrashing, but they are only partially awake and won’t necessarily be aware of your presence. They will not respond to you, and will usually fall back asleep without completely waking up. They won’t remember it the next day.

School-aged children (5 years and up)

  • Fears at this age tend to be more reality-based, such as storms, fires or injury. But the fear may be out of proportion to the likelihood of anything bad happening. As children learn more and begin to better understand what is really a danger and what is not, these fears generally go away.
  • Older children often worry about their parents’ marriage or health, and can easily exaggerate mild arguments or complaints that they hear. It’s best to have these kind of conversations in private, away from your children.
  • Being exposed to media can also cause fear in young children. Images from movies, video games, music videos, Internet websites, and even television news stories can be scary.
  • Older children may express their fears in ways other than crying. They may bite their nails, tremble, or suck their thumb, or “act out”. They won’t necessarily tell you they are afraid, so watch for signs.

What parents can do

  • Never force your child to confront a fear before she’s ready. Introduce her to a  fearful situations in a slow, careful manner. Be sure to give lots of praise when she does something she used to be afraid of.
  • Always ask your child questions so you understand the situation and can be sure your child is safe.
  • Respect that the fear is real for your child. Don’t belittle your child or make fun of him.
  • Anticipate things that might be scary to your child and help her prepare. For example, let her know when you’ll be visiting a home with a big dog, or let her know when you’ll be leaving to go out.
  • You can help your child work through fears by reading books, making up stories, or acting out situations that deal with his fear. Drawing a monster can help him express his fears and learn to understand that they aren’t real.
  • Try to desensitize your child to the fearful object or situation. Using a toy fire engine may help to reduce the fear of the real one.
  • Help your child feel physically secure by hugging her, holding her hand, and being close. You can also teach her to take long, deep breaths to reduce her anxiety.
  • Encourage your child to share her fears with a doll or stuffed animal.
  • Try not to reinforce the fear by being scared yourself. Any sign that you may be worried about a situation can send a fearful child into a panic.
  • Limit your child’s exposure to media that may create fears or make them even worse including TV, movies, video games, Internet, and even printed materials. You can also help teach children good media habits, which will help them know the difference between what’s real and what’s not.