My child hates reading!

Dear Teacher,

My daughter hates reading!  I’ve tried everything to no avail. I thought as she got older she would eventually change her attitude toward reading, but things are getting worse, not better as time goes on.  She is now in first grade and it’s like pulling teeth to get her to do her homework.  She is on grade level in all her subjects, but I’m worried about her falling behind.  Frankly, I’m at my wits end.   Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Dear Parent,

Based on your letter I’m assuming she doesn’t struggle with reading and is doing well overall in school. Lack of interest in the subject matter is probably the issue.  In order to help your daughter develop a love of reading, I recommend giving her additional choices. One of the most important factors in creating a love of reading is allowing children to choose books on subjects that they are interested in.  What does she love doing, seeing, watching, etc.?  Does she like horses, music, computers or drawing?  Ask her what are the three things she is most interested in. Everyone has a passion.  You might be surprised to find out that there is something she really enjoys that you don’t know about.  (1) Take her to the library and get her a library card if she doesn’t have one. (2) Let her choose the books she would like to read.  Make it a “field trip” of sorts.  (3) Focus on other reading material that sparks her interest and increases her motivation.  For example, comic books, newspapers, and magazines for children are all ways to create a motivated, engaged and HAPPY reader!  If she happens to pick something at the library that is way above her reading level that’s o.k.  Read it to her instead.  Listening is an important skill.  In fact, listening is the foundation that all other reading readiness skills are built on!  In addition, the ability to develop “active listening skills” increases COMPREHENSION and VOCABULARY.  Last, but not least, you’re modeling what good readers sound like when you read out loud to your child.

Unfortunately a negative pattern has been created, however, this can be changed. By the way, you’re not alone.   It’s not uncommon for young children to be irritable when they come home from school.  The standards placed on children are much different now and with that comes additional academic pressure and responsibility. Whether they show it or not, most kindergarten and first grade students are exhausted after a full day at school. Having said that, there are steps to help make arriving at home a more pleasant experience for both of you.

  1. Give her an opportunity to rest after she arrives home before starting her homework. I would recommend at least 30 minutes, but as her parent, you know her better than I do.  Choose a time frame that lets her unwind, but not to the extent that it’s hard to get her to start on the homework train!
  2. Create a homework chart with her name at the top.  Use stars, stickers or something you know she likes.  Have her put the stars on her chart to increase motivation.  Don’t make it just about completing her homework.  For example, she could give herself the first star for walking in the door and unpacking her backpack.  She could earn a second star for setting the timer for her break before starting her homework. A third star could be earned for starting her homework after the timer goes off.  Other stars could be earned for staying on task, and completing her homework. It’s important to give multiple stars because rewarding in small increments has a very positive influence, and increases motivation.
  3. Last, but not least, BE CONSISTENT.  I can’t stress this enough.  You must follow through every day IN ORDER TO CREATE A NEW PATTERN.  New patterns take time and effort, and consistency is key.  Once a new pattern has been created and becomes an integral part of your family routine it will become second nature.

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