how to build your child’s reading stamina with these 6 handy tips

reading stamina

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.

Sound familiar?

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. Unsurprisingly, 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 with high reading stamina levels have adequate support systems at home.

reading stamina

Why is reading stamina important?

Reading is central to literacy development. It builds comprehension, vocabulary, and 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 what 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

tips for building reading stamina at home

Tip 1: Give kids lots of exciting books to read in 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 feel accomplished 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 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.

read alouds build stamina

Reading stamina checklist

Here is an example of a reading stamina checklist:

stamina checklist

Reading Stamina by age

second grade

By second grade, children should be able to read increasingly complex texts for extended periods without losing focus.

To achieve this, parents need to start working with their children as early as possible, setting aside time for regular reading sessions that increase in length and difficulty as the child ages.

third grade

By third grade, children should be able to read fluently and with comprehension for extended periods of time.

Parents should continue to set aside time for regular reading sessions and introduce their children to more complex texts beyond what they currently read at school.

fourth grade

By fourth grade, children should be able to read complex texts easily and demonstrate a deep understanding of what they have read.

Parents should continue to set aside time for regular reading sessions and introduce their children to texts above their grade level.

fifth grade

By fifth grade, children should be able to read extensively across various genres and text types. They should also be able to understand the most challenging texts independently.

Parents should continue setting aside time for regular reading sessions and encourage their children to read independently for pleasure.

sixth grade

By sixth grade, children should be able to read independently for both pleasure and academic purposes. They should also be able to engage in thoughtful discussions about the texts they have read.

Parents should continue to set aside time for regular reading sessions and encourage their children to seek out new and challenging texts independently.

seventh & eighth grades

By seventh grade, children should be confident and proficient readers. They should be able to read a variety of genres and text types with ease and demonstrate a deep understanding of the texts they have read.

Parents should continue supporting their children’s reading habits by providing access to various books and other reading materials.

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 to track 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.
how to build reading stamina

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