7 tips to encourage your child to read

7 tips to encourage your child to read

I strongly believe that to help a child reach their learning potential, it’s important parents and teachers encourage reading. Students are more likely to do well in school if they read; even if writing and reading isn’t a child’s favourite thing, literacy skills can be developed over time, and this means that life in and outside of the classroom can be all the more enjoyable and successful, at all ages.

School is made easier too, which is a really critical reason why you should encourage your child to read. A strong reader has a broader vocabulary, wider general knowledge and an increased understanding of cultures (important for thriving and developing compassion in our contemporary multicultural society).

Parents/guardians, it’s vital you show an interest in your child’s reading development, because you are your child’s first and ultimate life-long educator.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” –Emily Buchwald

Why you should encourage your child to read

7 tips on how to influence your child to love reading

  1. Read with your with child every day

Make your child read aloud for fifteen minutes, ensuring they stop for punctuation, difficult words and share ideas on what the meaning of the story is. Children who read have a broader vocabulary which helps in their writing and exam tasks. Also, ask your child to explain to you what they have read (e.g. talk about characters, setting, understanding of the topic and themes); this is vital in helping kids succeed in future exams and assignments.

  1. Choose reading material of interest to the reader

I always say to parents that I don’t care what kids are reading, as long as they are reading! Ensure children are reading their favourite material, whatever it may be (although do encourage consumption of a variety of genres and media (books, magazines, digital content) as your children grow. They’ll be more engaged across the board, and happier to de-construct (talk to you about) it.

However, if you find a child struggles to read the text, they may be reading above their ability; if you perceive there are issues, talk to a teacher to determine what the child’s reading level is. It’s better to work from where they are at. The aim is to make reading (and subsequent writing and literacy tasks) enjoyable, not challenging.

  1. Be patient and make literacy learning fun

It’s important that reading is presented as an enjoyable experience. As a parent, be patient. If you feel your little one is encountering difficulties, be supportive and encouraging. Remember, the main aim of reading is to make it fun; and, practice makes perfect – all the more reason this should continue outside of the classroom and into the home with regularity.

  1. Link to the outside world

Children want to see that what they’re reading is connecting to their ‘outside world’. As a family, it’s a great idea to research a topic together. For example, if you’re going on a holiday, investigate the destination together. Or, if your child is into games / gaming, take this opportunity to read reviews on the applications of interest to them. Reading is about what your child likes, not what you like. Embrace that – it will mean they are more engaged in the reading process and will feel uplifted and appreciated becasue you respect their opinions.

  1. Play [literacy] games

There are hundreds and hundreds of literacy games on the internet as well as app downloads on mobile devices; these are fun and interactive. We all know that kids are tech savvy so this is an ideal chance for your child to explain to you how a particular game works. This activity positions them as the expert in the situation, while giving them a chance to read and explain on topics of interest with enthusiasm. Simply search for relevant games on Google, or seek ideas from your child’s school.

  1. Experiment with audio books

I find audio books are an excellent way of introducing children to stories read by passionate presenters who can make the words on the page come alive. Kids can read along while building their vocabulary.

It’s also helpful if you read in small passages with your child, and have them apply their comprehension skills as they move through a story, explaining characters, setting and theme along the way.

  1. Weave literacy learnings with a field trip

It’s important to surround your child with books and writing, whether this be at home, on a field trip to a community or school library, university or book store.

In this experience, children will witness first-hand how books contribute to education, knowledge and development; and that reading is a life-long practice, not just something that you do in school.

Importantly, parents – your role is critical in influencing your child to be an enthusiastic reader. If you don’t show an interest, they won’t. Your kids model behaviour, so demonstrate that reading and writing is fun, important, and makes for a fulfilling future.

Cooper Dawson

Feature image via Flickr creative commons, US Department of Education

How to get your teen to talk to you

How to get your teen to talk to you

Does your child talk to you? I mean really talk to you, about important topics like boys, girls, alcohol, drugs and the one that starts with S (sex).

When children reach that delicate period known as puberty, it can be a confusing time for both parent and child. Children begin noticing changes in their body, mood swings and not to mention those raging hormones.

For some parents it’s that overwhelming feeling of frustration and helplessness when you try to offer guidance and your child rejects you and disconnects the lines of communication.

Most adolescents are under a lot of pressure, both academically and socially, while also discovering who they are and where they fit into a society that is forever changing. It is possible to be a part of this journey and maintain a strong relationship with your child.

How to get your teen to talk to you? – communication is key.

“Communication is the key to developing positive relationships” –Kath Bunney (student services professional)


How to get your teen to talk to you

happy parent and teen

1.  Listen – Actively listen. Stop what you’re doing and listen. Show them that their thoughts, ideas and feelings matter and their concerns are being heard.

Listening is the best way to find out what your teen knows or needs. Just listen and then say, ‘Would you like advice?’

2. Don’t lecture – when adults yell, exaggerate, get frustrated, roll their eyes, sigh, it turns teens off and they stopped listening. As a result, the relationship suffers.

3. Take a breath before speaking; smile, look friendly and set a positive tone. Keep the conversation happy and upbeat.

Happy conversations are more likely when you’re both in a cheerful mood. The conversation will decline quickly if either one of you is upset. Never demand they tell you their problems or what is bothering them.

Friendliness gets the point across quicker than sarcasm, scolding or a lecture.

4.  Distraction – Before you ask too many questions offer them a snack.

Let’s be honest, how many a good conversation is had over food?

5.  If you’re hoping to make a point keep the conversation short, simple and to the point.

Timing can play an important role in how the conversation goes. Choose short sentences over paragraphs.

You’re the parent, you know you have life experience; you don’t need to flaunt it and waffle on.

6.  Don’t be afraid to ask open-ended questions to encourage them to open up. Allow for their point of view.

Teens are at a stage of their life where they feel they know more than you do. Okay, they might know more about pop culture and technology but it isn’t the whole story.

7.  Understand how your child likes to communicate. Driving in the car, cooking dinner, kicking the footy, waking the dog or in a quiet place with no distractions can be a successful way to get little bits of information from your child.

I can remember many a conversation with my mum on the way to school.

8.  Look at yourself. How strongly you feel about certain topics such as teens engaging in sex, and using drugs and alcohol may prevent your child opening up to you.

If your child already knows what you’ll say about this topic why would they bother asking?

9.  Be consistent and thank them for opening up to you.

“The importance of listening to your child as they are growing up cannot be underestimated. The listening I am talking about is when you give your child the time and opportunity to share their problems.

It is not necessarily about jumping in to give them the solution; it is about giving them the space to verbalise the myriad of issues that the young person has to grapple with as they move from child, to young person to young adult.

What your son or daughter may be looking for is knowing that they have been heard and understood rather than wanting a ready-made solution to their issues”.
-Paul Campbell (school principal, Australia)


The most important parenting skill is effective communication. Parents need to start early – well ahead of the teen years.

Show your child it’s okay to talk about anything. Don’t wait until your child is in school and a teenager before you try to work on the relationship.

And of course, if you are struggling with any challenges, consult a local, trusted professional or two for advice – ideal people to talk to include a teacher, principal, child psychologist, school chaplain or counsellor, but do not leave it until things are really bad. Prevention is better than cure.

Do you have a question, concern or comment? Please drop us a line below or on social media to get the conversation going.

By Cooper Dawson
How to get your child interested in school – 5 top tips

How to get your child interested in school – 5 top tips

Most parents understand the importance of their child’s education. However, trying to convince a child to share your wisdom can be both frustrating and distressing.

Children who are disengaged from school find it difficult to be successful. The challenge we as parents, teachers and guardians need to overcome is how to make a child interested in learning; in other words, how to get your child interested in school.

From my experience as a teacher, the best way to get a child interested in school work is to make learning fun and approach all subjects with a touch of creativity and humour.

Having a parent tell you their child enjoys coming to school always gives me goose bumps and a sense of pride. I wish I’d felt that way about my teachers as a child.

How to get your child interested in school

Tip 1: Speak positively about education

Consistently let your child know how important education is and celebrate their successes whether it be for academic achievement, behaviour or effort.

Children from negative households and with parents who are disinterested or who fail to see the importance of education are contributing to their child’s negative experience towards learning.

Tip 2: Show your child you are interested in their homework

Ask your child how their day was; what did they learn?

Have them show you or explain it to you. Get them talking to you.

All parents should know what their child has for homework and when it is due.

Timetables, spelling words and reading aloud each day are the fundamentals of success, and should not be ignored or taken for granted.

There are wonderful resources available that can make this process a fun learning experience the whole family can enjoy.

Tip 3: Speak to their teacher

Every parent should speak to their child’s teacher at least once a term. This is an excellent opportunity to discover your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Conversations with their teacher can help to determine if there are any issues causing your child to disconnect or disengage from the classroom.

Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Association president, Margaret Black says, “There’s nothing more powerful than a three-way (parent/teacher/child) partnership,” and I agree.


Tip 4: Visit their classroom

It is your responsibility to visit your child’s classroom on a regular basis. Teachers are always looking for volunteers and this is an excellent opportunity to witness your child’s behaviour, social skills and academic interest. Your presence alone will reinforce the importance of education and encourage your child to show more interest in the classroom setting.

Personally, I could count the number of parents I’ve had in my classroom on one hand. I realise parents are busy – everyone is busy – but if a classroom visit throughout the semester is planned, it can be worked into your diary and is achievable (and worthwhile, as far as I’m concerned).

Tip 5: Open up the lines of communication

Talk to your child. Make sure your child knows they are in a supportive, loving home environment and you are interested and respect what they have to say.

It may take many conversations but it’s crucial you actively listen to understand your child’s social wellbeing.

Finally, it is also the role of the teacher to make each child feel that they are in a positive and supportive classroom environment where someone believes in them and encourages them to believe that anything is possible.

If both parents and teachers maintain a united front, then the child is placed in the best possible situation for success and contentedness.

“Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like” –Rita Pierson


Do you have a question, concern or comment? Please drop us a line below to get the conversation going.

By Cooper Dawson