I have successfully put down the phone more often these days, and spent more time with my homeschooling endeavour. More so since the classes are over and I do not need to rush to school anymore at the wee hours of the morning. It’s heaven.
We have also taken away Khayra’s privilege of killing the time with iPad or any sorts of gadgets. It was not that hard because all she needs is distraction. And of course it takes full participation from the parents to make it work. We only did it in two days. Some kids might need more time. We know our kids better so do not go on a full swing if you think they are not ready. Trust your instincts and learn your kids’ patterns. Insyallah.
I realise Khayra is into books (and I have trained her since little to value books), that she can spend the whole hour with them without a twinge of boredom. Some of my friends who came over did ask me on how to develop reading habit in toddlers. I am no parenting expert so I have no exact answers to this. But I do believe that any children develop habits from the people closest to them. In my case, it’s me. So I need to set up a good example before I expect her to follow.
So these are what I did to help Khayra to immerse herself in reading habit.
1. START WITH YOU
Instead of expecting your child to pick up a book and read, without tearing them apart, you have to kickstart the habit by doing it. Put down the phone and pick up a book instead. If it has been a norm to pick up a phone during meal time or just for the sake of killing the time, then change it. I developed the habit of checking my phone every 5mins (or less!) due to the nature of my previous job. Assignments and work call came in handy in forms of whatsapp or emails so I had to not miss anything and have as well trained myself to refresh emails every minute, even when I woke up at 3am to the loo. It’s that complicated. I have never turned off the phone without any valid reasons for 5 years, and to evade from doing it was a struggle at first. Once I managed to place the phone as secondary, I realised I can do a lot of things with the kid without a single disruption! In fact, the first thing I did after finishing my last day at work was turning off the phone, and enjoying my sleep throughout the night without having to worry about unexpected work calls!
2. READ WITH THEM
This is Khayra’s favourite part, and mine too. I discover that I can learn my daughter’s milestone whenever I spend time reading with her. Sometimes I don’t expect her to know all shapes and names of items in the kitchen at her age, but she did! I also learn her nature of behaviour by the books she would insist me to read all over again. Khayra has preferences over fiction books. She is not really into books discussing being a big sister. Does that explain a lot? Yes, no plans yet for the second one, kid. Tee hee hee.
3. BEDTIME STORY
Make it a routine before flocking to dreamlands by grabbing a book and tell a story. Sometimes we are not sure whether the kid would understand what we have been reading. Just keep on reading and improvise a bit. If you think the story line of a book is quite complicated for their age, then make up another story and use the colourful images in the book along to help them visualise. Teach them to pick up a book when they tell you they are not yet sleepy as by doing it, we are teaching them to choose books over other things to kill the time. Books come first! Everything else is secondary. lol
4. FAMILIAR THEMSELVES WITH LIBRARIES / BOOK STORES
In my case, I made it a habit for both of us to pay a visit to any bookstores and look out for new books (or sometimes just plain window shopping) whenever we are at some new places. In Malaysia, the venue would be in the malls. Here, whenever we are at Carboot sale, I’d make it a routine to go to the book section and ask Khayra to choose which books which she would love to read most. Do not always decide for them, but let them voice out their own preferences. And if you think the books they choose are not up to their age or understanding, then explain to them. Start by complimenting their effort and choice, before telling them that the books are for elders. As for me, I’d say “That’s a nice book. But not today. Maybe next time, when we have finished reading another books, ya?” or “That’s a good book. But how about we try this one today? This looks nice too!”. After all, we know our kids’ patterns, and as for Khayra, she doesn’t like to be turned down immediately. I don’t like to criticise of her choice too, so distracting and offering other choices have been the idea which worked the most.
5. SET UP A MINI LIBRARY AT HOME
I have been doing this since she’s little. What’s better way to raise a bibliophile than giving him or her an inventory which is never dry of books!
But sometimes, kids get bored too with books, like adults. So, do engage them with other activities. As for us, we like arts and play dough!