The capability of television and the internet to stream fantastic action stuff onto a screen, has unfortunately taken some of the winds from the sails of the once common story book. This has also had an effect on the ability of our children to imagine coherently, build stories and to visualise freely.
Mr Nayan Kumar, reached out to me via my Facebook page ‘Parenting for success‘ with a request for information on how to get his child to read books! Thank you Mr Nayan for giving me an interesting and important issue to share with many parents.
I can go on and on, quote research and names and stuff that would make you drop this post and ‘yes switch on the TV’, but thats not what we want is it? Nevertheless, please bear with me as I build some context. The context I would like to share is how most learning is done. Most learning is usually done (at least in the early stages) by a process called ‘modelling’. That is to say, we copy or imitate the people in our immediate vicinity. (Take the hint bro). Another thing that is strong within us, is the craving for exciting stuff, things that captivate our minds and tickle our curiosity. Do keep these in mind as you read ahead. Lest I ramble along, let me share the 3 secrets! Are you ready for it?
LONG LONG AGO…..IN A GALAXY FAR FAR AWAY…
Recall your childhood. Recall those wonderful moments when you imitated your favourite uncle or mimicked the milkman – and of course the entire family enjoyed the show. Think back – all the modelling that you did – albeit inadvertently, in many ways defines what you are today. For example, lets say that your parents did a lot of reading! The good stuff – not newspapers, statistics and other sleep inducers. I am referring to interesting reading, something that drew you to pick up the book when no one was watching you! Thats what is needed today!
SECRET # 1 MASTAH – TEACH ME KUNG FU
Lead and children will follow. Yes Sir. Start reading yourself. Read the kind of books / comics / articles that you feel your child may want to pick up. For example, start reading Asterix comics. When your child observes you falling off your chair with laughter, he/she will become curious and may even pick up your comic later, just to see what made dad fall off his rocker – BOOM – the seed is planted! All you need to do AFTER THIS is to nurture it!
SECRET # 2 – REALLY? SO THE FIRST TRANSFORMER WAS A FROG WHO TRANSFORMED TO A PRINCE AFTER A KISS? EEW!
Ask your child to tell a story. This is not going to be easy. Children who have not heard too many stories, may find it difficult to articulate. (MASTER PARENT TIP – In case your child finds it difficult here, you could ask him/her to describe a story of his/her favourite TV character). Jump in at the opportune moment and say – “that was a wonderful story – would you like to hear mine?” Now build upon your child’s story – make it colourful, descriptive, magical and detailed. Keep asking your child for inputs – involve him/her in the imaginative / visualisation process and the descriptive process. Co-create a wold of joy, mystery, colour and action – that truly belongs to your child. Now that is one thing that no TV can create! Share such moments on a regular basis and then gradually introduce books for reading together. This could be done – using the plea that -“the story for today that we will have fun with – is from this book- lets read it together.” The next step would be to get your child to read a story on his/her own and then describe the wonder of it all to you! You rock now!
SECRET # 3 – KUNG FU PANDA AND THE SECRET SCROLL – ITS ALL IN HOW YOU SEE IT
This is the point of graduation from ‘Mummy’s or Daddy’s Story School’. As you observe the story telling abilities of your child improving, keep raising the bar. Try adding characters to existing stories. You could add scenarios, like say a desert island or even a place that you have taken your children to – maybe disneyland. The point is, your child must continue to get imaginative and develop the ability to link abstracts. Its like getting Luke Skywalker to dance with Cindrella and to get her home in time – after training a dragon or say a dinosaur from Jurassic Park. Yes – the more outlandish it gets, the better it is. Once this stage is achieved, here is the big test. Ask your child to write a full story and describe it to you independently. This could be done after the child has finished reading a few comics or books that may fuel his imagination!
There it is! 3 SECRETS. And because you have been reading so far – here is an additional secret – use tons and tons of love and affection. Chocolates won’t hurt either! Remember, we need our children to read books – period! There are many other techniques to encourage reading. Do feel free to contact me for more information if needed. Happy parenting!