For a child and very often even for an adult, sitting down to read a book requires a great deal of patience and focus. The task becomes all the more challenging for restless readers who actually struggle to pay attention while being read to or while reading themselves. Lack of attention and concentration are very common among young children affecting the way they learn and retain new information. If keeping your child focused while reading is a struggle, we have a few reading activities for restless kids. These activities will ensure that reading is still fun as they engage restless children and take so much pressure off you.
Don’t Force Them to Sit Still
It is okay if your kid wants to walk or bounce while you are reading as long as they are listening. Of course, you can’t allow them to yell but it is also not necessary that they sit at your feet while you are reading. They might just hop around while listening and come back to you to look at a picture or two.
Distract Them While Reading
While reading to kids, giving them something sensory-related to do, helps them concentrate. You can give them a small stuffed toy or ball to hold and even if they fidget, they will still listen. At the same time, your kid should have a quiet and comfortable place to read. It is also best not to have a television or music blaring in the background.
Don’t Read the Book Word for Word
When children are restless, there is no point in prolonging the story. Any reading or word-based activities are helpful, so summarising a story is a handy trip when this happens. If you feel your kid has started zoning out, you can quietly skip to the last page to summarise the story.
Keep Asking Them Questions About the Book
Whether they are distracted or fidgeting on your lap, point to the book and ask them questions. That way they are more likely to pay attention. Questions like, “How many _____ are there? What is the colour of the ____?” are very helpful.
Let Your Child Choose the Book
There’s a higher chance they will actually pay attention if they have chosen the book and are interested in the first place. Trying to read to a disinterested child can be very hard and trying. Also, if your kid truly doesn’t enjoy the book, there is no point in forcing the issue and risking putting them off books altogether. Try to observe what your kids have recently taken an interest in — dinosaurs, fairies, witches or unicorns and choose a book on whatever fascinates them. Look for books with large colourful pictures that you are sure will capture your child’s interest.
Avoid Frustration or Taking it Personally
As parents, it is very common to get flustered and frustrated amidst chaos and confusion. During reading time, they like to think that ideally everyone should sit quietly with an intent expression on their face and their hands in their laps without uttering a word. This is very unlikely to happen with small children and you really need to put in an effort not to allow yourself to get frustrated.
Break Up Their Reading Time
Engaging reluctant readers is much easier if they know they won’t be expected to sit for long periods. Regular reading breaks every 15 to 20 minutes is more likely to keep them motivated. You can make it fun by doing something as simple as asking them to run on the spot or do jumping jacks in every break.
Choose Optimal Times of the Day
A child’s level of alertness and focus is never constant and keeps changing over the course of the day. See which time of the day your child is most prepared to sit down and focus on reading a book. Once you have identified the time, engage restless children in reading activities at that time.
Your child may struggle with their reading and may want to put down their book in a couple of minutes but may have no problem in playing with Legos for an hour if they are interested in it. Try to be creative and make reading activities for restless kids as fun and hands-on as possible. Role‑play is always fun as is shaping the letters of different words using Legos or play dough.
Encourage Physical Activity
Studies show that physical activity leads to improved concentration levels. Encourage them to play outdoor games or any fun physical activity before reading to kids to help them concentrate. Work around their energy levels and make sure you let them run around a lot.
Provide Fun Instructions
You can create a general sense of excitement by doing something fun like singing a jingle or using a fun sound to herald reading time. You could also use a visual reminder for reading time like a fun poster on the wall or a ‘Reading Stuffed Animal’ which they can hold on their lap while reading. Don’t just read what is in the book. Use different tones of voice in your voice to grab their interest as you read or describe the pictures. If your child interrupts with a comment, don’t stop them. Engaging reluctant readers in the process makes them more enthusiastic about spending reading time with you.
Encourage Focusing Techniques
Meditation is the best way to help your child concentrate and focus before starting reading activities for restless kids. Begin with just a minute or two and ask them to focus on a particular object in the room. When they get distracted while reading, ask them to focus again on that object to remove any distracting thoughts.
Reading is an awesome activity to engage in with kids and it’s not only a great bonding time, it’s also great for their learning and literacy skills. Even if children initially appear disinterested in reading, it doesn’t mean that they will not develop an interest. As a parent, you shouldn’t give up easily as the developmental and academic benefits of reading cannot be emphasised more. There are numerous ways to make reading more interesting for kids so even if you get off to a rocky start be sure it is only a matter of time before you will have them hooked. Work together with your child and before long you will have introduced them to the many joys of reading. If you would like more information on how to engage restless and reluctant children in reading, you can touch base with the EuroKids website for the latest updates.