Your child’s homework planner says they need to read for 20 minutes. After a long, busy day, the last thing you want to deal with is a power struggle over independent reading time.
It’s almost bedtime. You’ve worked hard and parented like a boss. Exhaustion hits.
Independent reading time doesn’t have to be a struggle.
When you create consistent habits at home, your child learns to expect your routine. Not only can you make independent reading time smoother and more efficient for everyone, but you can teach your child how to build reading stamina.
What is reading stamina?
Stamina is the mental and physical ability to sustain an activity for an extended time.
Reading stamina is the ability to focus and read for periods of time without getting distracted or distracting others. You can help your child develop reading stamina at home!
Some kids naturally gravitate toward books. It’s no surprise that these kids don’t need prompting to do their independent reading.
But what about kids who are easily distracted? The reluctant readers? The ones who view reading as a chore?
Suffice it to say, easily distracted children need to learn reading stamina. Their teachers reinforce positive reading habits at school, but you need to support and encourage your child to become an independent reader outside of school.
Kids who have high levels of reading stamina have adequate support systems at home.
Why is reading stamina important?
Reading is central to literacy development. It builds comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and develops cultural literacy.
Reading well extends beyond academics into success in the workplace and in life. People who read more know more.
A student who masters reading stamina is better organized, more enthusiastic, and makes the most of their time in productive ways. They learn to pace themselves using focused energy.
Our workplace and home lives require us to focus on tasks for blocks of time. It’s essential to college and career readiness. We aren’t born with the ability to focus; we learn it through experience and education.
It starts with early learning and the things you teach your children in your own home.
I promise you can make this process easier.
How? Use the following 6 handy tips!
How to build and improve your child’s reading stamina at home
Tip 1: Provide kids with lots of exciting books to read in many different genres.
Find reading material your children actually want to read! Take them to the library often, and let them choose their own books. Comics and magazines count! Reluctant readers might prefer audiobooks. You want your child to want to read on their own. Make it fun! Would you read something you didn’t like in your free time? No, you wouldn’t.
tip 2: Minimize distractions.
Make your child’s reading space free of distractions. Minimize noise, turn off phones and computers, and take away tablets and Chromebooks. Don’t sit your child at the kitchen table when cooking dinner. It’s a surefire way to get them to ditch the book and dig the snacks!
Tip 3: Be consistent.
Let your child choose their reading spot. They’ll do their independent reading in the same location every day. Maybe it’s a comfy chair. Or perhaps they prefer to read in bed. The “where” doesn’t matter. Insist they read in the same spot. It helps if you ask them to do their assigned reading at the same time of day. It could be after school, or you can incorporate it into your child’s wind-down time in the evening.
Tip 4: Set small goals and build from there.
Start with small goals and incrementally build from there. Baby steps! Use a fun timer. For example, in the first week, start with five minutes of reading. Once your child can sit for the full five minutes, move up to ten minutes. Increase the total reading time until they can sit and focus for a full 20 minutes.
Keep a reading stamina chart to monitor progress.
Set your target goal and work toward it together. Keep your goals and expectations for your child realistic. It’s acceptable to break a 20-minute reading assignment into 2 x 10-minute reading sessions but stay consistent. If it helps, sit next to your child and read your own book! This way, you model your love for reading and reinforce its importance in your family life.
Tip 5: Monitor and celebrate progress!
Remember: Progress takes time! Experts say it takes two months to establish a new habit. Young learners do well using reading stamina charts and graphs. They’ll get a sense of accomplishment as they see the visual reminder of how far they’ve come.
There is nothing wrong with rewarding children for their efforts (purchasing a new book, a trip to the library, a family outing, etc.).
Tip 6: Read aloud with your child.
People always ask me how I raised such strong readers. Honestly, I’ve read aloud to them since the day they were born (and I followed the tips I outlined above). My husband and I still read aloud to our teens.
During the toddler, preschool, and elementary years, this served as a means of connection and bonding, but it was also a time for my children to sit still and listen. When it came time for them to head to school, they had zero behavioral issues with sitting, listening, and concentrating. If your child can’t sit still for 20 minutes and read independently, sit with them and take turns reading.
Reading stamina checklist
Here is an example of a reading stamina checklist:
Some of our favorite reading timers
Some of our favorite reading timers and gadgets:
We love digital bookmarks for keeping track of time & pages read.
We keep simple, easy-to-use digital timers around the home for keeping track of reading minutes and music practice. My kids each own one of these adorable children’s reading timers they store next to their beds as well.
My kids have learned tons of new words with their Dictionary Bookmarks.
Let’s Sum it UP
6 tips for building reading stamina at home:
- Provide your child with lots of reading material.
- Minimize distractions.
- Be consistent.
- Set small goals and build from there.
- Monitor and celebrate progress.
- Read aloud with your child.
Are you looking for summer writing inspiration for your children? Check out the 90 Days of Summer Journal Prompts Digital Download available now in my store.
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