Have you tried, in the past, to get your dyslexic child to read more, and failed? You already know it’s a good idea because struggling readers can add up to 21,000 words to their vocabulary by reading for just 7 minutes per day. Well, here are the steps to establishing this habit.
Step 1:Take teeny,tiny steps to establish this habit. According to J Fogg PhD from Stanford University, people fail at taking on new habits because they try and set a goal which is too difficult to reach. By taking the smallest steps imaginable you can start to establish a new habit. Try starting by getting your child to look at the book they want to read several times. Then ask them to read a few words. Gradually build this up to reading a sentence, then a few sentences. Just take your time over this and go at your child’s pace. You may find your child wants to read more and more as this habit takes hold.
Step 2: Make sure your child has a book they want to read. Donalyn Miller emphasises the importance of children selecting their own reading books. If you find that they are not really enjoying reading it that much, you should try and find out why (is it too hard for them or are they just not finding the subject interesting?), but ultimately let them choose another book , perhaps by recommendation. If the book is too hard for your child but they want to read and finish it, then let your child read the parts that they can and you read the rest to them. Making it a shared and enjoyable experience will help to form the habit too.
Step 3:Develop a plan of when your child can read. This is especially important if you have failed to establish this reading habit for your child in the past. Fogg suggests finding an ‘anchor’ which will lead you automatically to your new habit. For example, set up reading time for when your child gets home from school, before they slope off to play or before starting their homework. You may find that reading together before bedtime is the best anchor, or straight after dinner. In the first example, when your child gets home from school (which is the anchor) the book would be read, and, after a period of time, this would become an established habit ( notice that an exact time is not scheduled in, rather it is linked to an action of some kind).
Step 4:Celebrate each time your child reads. Praise your child for looking at the book, reading a few words or managing to read for a few days in a row, whatever is appropriate for the stage they are at. Celebration is important because your child’s brain will react positively to reading and then your child will feel happy and excited each time they read.
Charles Duhigg, author of ‘ The Power of Habit , Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business’ emphasises that each time you perform the habit your neural pathways thicken which means that it becomes easier to do. When trying to establish a new habit, do it daily. In no time at all, your child could go from reluctant reader to enjoying reading time, with the added benefits of increasing their vocabulary and their performance at school.
What do you think about these ideas? Are you ready to try them out with your child? Have you already managed to do this and do you have any advice for others?
Please comment and let me know how you get on.
PS: If you would like support in helping to make learning less frustrating for your dyslexic child , please click here to join my free Facebook group where I support parents like you and also where we share ideas and frustrations.
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Charles Duhigg ‘ The Power of Habit, Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business’
J Fogg PhD ‘ Tiny Habits’.
Donalyn Miller ‘ Reading in the Wild’.