As students progress through elementary school levels, reading will become an even more essential skill, and developing good habits may become harder. When children become older and literary works become denser and longer, they can easily disengage with the process and become apprehensive. However, there are many ways to keep the love for reading well and alive in and out of the classroom. Here are some expert tips on how to get your third grader to love reading:
1. Use Incentives to Encourage Reading:
Model good reading habits for your child by making sure that he or she sees you and other adults enjoying reading. This will help him or her view reading in a positive light. Never leave home without reading materials for both of you. Always having a book or a magazine on hand for moments like a wait at a doctor’s office, a long car ride, or just waiting in the car to pick up a sibling helps your child understand that reading is an enjoyable activity that your child can do at any time.
2. Keep a Dictionary and Thesaurus Accessible:
Keep a dictionary and a thesaurus accessible in the house, and bookmark some dictionary sites online, so that when an unfamiliar word comes up your child can easily consult these handy references. Encourage her to always look up words your young one doesn’t know.
3. Make the Most of Your Library:
By now your child should have a library card and be familiar with your local library. Encourage her to develop her own taste in reading and to borrow books that interest her. Make sure that he or she has time at home, away from computers and television, to focus on reading independently.
4. Use Technology as a Reading Tool:
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Some families are truly immersed in a digital lifestyle, making it hard for children to put down their electronics. If this is your child’s case, use that tool to encourage their love for reading. Research and learn how to use technology to help develop your third grader’s growing interest in reading. There is a large selection of online books for children, many with interactive features such as animations or voice recording. You can also encourage her interest in reading by helping her find online sites about topics that interest her.
5. Encourage Storytelling:
Kids love to tell stories with each other — the more outlandish, the better. Encourage your child to start a progressive story with a group of friends. Begin with a catchy opening, like “The robot stepped off the bright purple spaceship into a vivid green golf course.” Then, have the kids pass the paper around. Each writer adds a sentence or two until the writers collectively decide the story is finished. Watch the kids explode with laughter when they read the collaborative story out loud.
6. Play Word Games:
Word games are a great way to get your child to see the magic of language. And playing with language can be a start toward good writing. Here’s one idea to try with your third grader: When you’re driving in the car, taking a bus or walking in your neighborhood, spot the license plates on the cars that pass. Using the letters from the plate, try to create a sentence in which each letter becomes the beginning of a word. The license plate NJC124 could become “Nancy joins clubs” or “Nick juggles carrots.” Be creative and have fun!
7. Write and Stage a Play:
Drama and performance can hook both lovers and non-lovers of reading and writing into enjoying language. Here’s one idea to try with your third grader: Write and stage a play! Gather a group of your child’s friends and have them choose a favorite book. Help them pick a scene they love from the book and write a simple script—just by writing down what the characters said (or might have said). Help them pick a character to act out, find some props and dress-up clothes for costumes, and you’re set to go!
These are just some practical tips, but there are many more ways to get your child involved with literature, even during vacation times. Make sure to write to firstname.lastname@example.org to share what else works for your family and always try to keep the love for reading alive in your home!