After the blissful liberty and sprawling hours of the summer holidays, back to school can bring you back to earth with a bump. It can mean routine, rushing back and forth for drop offs and pick ups, squeezing in after-school activities and homework and, sadly, not fitting in some of the things you treasure most – like those intimate moments when you snuggle up and read together. Suddenly, something as simple as finding time to read feels an impossible challenge.
Well, it will be no great surprise to you that we think finding time to read is something worth fighting for – and we’re not alone. New research from Booktrust shows that almost two thirds of parents feel concerned about the lack of quality family time in their lives. And, though many parents are well aware of the benefits of reading together (not just for literacy and intellect, but also for bonding and emotional wellbeing, among other things), their survey found that parents aren’t doing it as much as they’d like – especially as children get older and read to themselves.
But the simple fact is, it doesn’t take much time to make a positive difference to your child’s life. A commitment to read together for just 10 minutes a day is a brilliant start and can be hugely beneficial. And let’s face it, it’s a lot more pleasurable than 10 minutes of press-ups or star jumps! So put all deadlines, commitments and demands aside for a moment and have a look at our suggestions for finding time to read.
Finding Time to Read: The 10-Minute Challenge
- Read at breakfast time. Admittedly, this doesn’t work for everyone. For some, breakfast is a time for saying “Get dressed” and “Have you brushed your teeth yet?” on repeat, while spinning round like a whirling dervish. But reading early in the morning – either in bed before you’ve got up or after breakfast – can create a wonderful sense of calm in the middle of the storm. Set your alarm clock ten minutes early, and make packed lunches and iron any clothes the night before. Alternatively, try it at the weekend when things are more relaxed. It’s a great way to start the day.
- Read straight after school. Dump school bags, forget homework and ignore crumpled clothes. Preparing lunch or dinner can wait for 10 minutes. Instead, enjoy a snack, a drink and a story together. It won’t just give you closeness after being separated for the day, it will bring calm and give your child time to process everything that has happened at nursery or school. After reading together, they’ll be more settled and willing to talk about their day. Even better, you’ll have had some quality time when you need it most.
- Read before bed, but not in bed. So often, reading in bed can go wrong. It’s cosy and a bit too snuggly. You’re both tired and yawning through the stories. “Let’s skip it tonight,” you say. Try this instead – get your kids cleaned up and in pyjamas, then read on the sofa or in a chair before going to bed. Comfortable, but not too comfortable, and so easy to make part of your routine. Just be strict about putting that 10 minutes aside.
- Read in the car or on public transport. Reading in the car only works, of course, if you’re not also driving. But if you have to travel for at least 10 minutes every day with your child and don’t have to be at the wheel, turn the journey into quality time by reading. It will also put a stop to travel boredom and those “Are we there yet?” cries.
- Do a weekend readathon. If you’ve had a frantic week or really can’t fit in 10 minutes a day from Monday to Friday, stack up the minutes and use them at the weekend in a mega reading session. Be strict about it. Choose a location that will make it extra special (see some suggestions here). Turn it into an hour that you’ll look forward to and treasure in the week to come. 10 minutes a day is great, but life isn’t always straightforward, and a longer session more than makes up for it.
We hope that has given you some inspiration for finding time to read. You can get more tips in coming weeks from Booktrust’s Time To Read blog. It’s truly worth making the commitment as it can have such a lasting impact on your child.
If you’ve haven’t tried reading for 10 minutes a day before or try any of the suggestions above, we’d love to hear how it went and what a difference it has made to your family time and your child’s literacy. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.
As ever, happy reading!