Wow, that’s one heck of a promise, but what if we told you that being the world’s best parent isn’t just entirely possible and easily within your grasp, it takes less than 1% of your day? Even better, you can start working towards that coveted parenting crown as soon as you’ve finished reading this article.
So what exactly do you need to do? It’s simple. Just read to your child for 10 minutes every day. 15 minutes if you can. (20 minutes and you’ll win your place in a special heaven populated by all your favourite fictional characters, locations and foods and, occasionally, your favourite author will drop by and invite you for tea and cake.)
But let’s start with just 10 minutes. On paper, reading to your child for 10 minutes every day seems totally doable, doesn’t it? But if it were so easy, we’d all be doing it and reading charities all over the world wouldn’t be imploring us to read to our children more.
There’s overwhelming evidence now that reading to your children is one of the best things you can do for them educationally and on an emotional level. It’s an incredible time for bonding and we all know it! So what’s stopping us and how do we overcome the barriers that life puts in the way? We have some solutions for you.
4 barriers to reading to your kids… and how to knock them down
This is perhaps one of the most common reasons given for not reading to your child for 10 minutes every day. Either you or your child is too exhausted. All you want to do is collapse on the sofa and watch some telly or fall into bed. It’s understandable, but with a little attitude shift and some clever timing, you can make a positive difference.
Your solution: The saying goes that if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results. So stop promising yourself that you’ll read for 10 minutes every night and then feeling guilt-stricken when you’re too tired to see it through. Instead, commit to read for 10 minutes every day at a time when you’ve both got enough energy to enjoy it. That might be first thing in the morning, at lunch, before dinner, after dinner. There is no right time – keep changing it until you get it right. You’ll know when that is as you’ll be reading for pleasure and not as a chore – and your child will be rapt. Read more on finding time to read here.
With so many demands on modern life, it’s hard not to fall into the busyness trap. But, as we mentioned in the intro, 10 minutes takes up less than 1% of your day. And that 10 minutes of reading has been proven to have such a positive impact on your child’s wellbeing and educational attainment, it’s absolutely worth making it a priority.
Your solution: Treat 10 minutes of reading to your child like you would any other daily task. Schedule it in and add it to your to-do list. You could put it in your diary or journal or even make a wall chart for you or your child to tick off. If you make it a daily goal, you’ll have a sense of achievement every time you complete it – and it will soon turn into a good habit. One with a gazillion benefits thrown in for both you – reading together is a great stress reliever – and your child.
Ah, we’ve all been here – and kids use this reason as often as adults. The problem is that taking one day off because you don’t feel ‘in the mood’ can easily escalate into a permanent state of being (think gym memberships). It’s a slippery slope, but you can tackle it with a change of approach.
Your solution: If neither of you are in the mood, chances are you’re bored. You need to change things up. There are so many ways you can do this. You can change your reading material. Try non-fiction, for instance, or try a myth instead of a fairy tale. Change where and how you read – go outside, read in a blanket tent, read by torchlight. Change when you read – do it at a completely different time. Alternatively, reward yourselves for reading. We have some ideas on how you can do that here. Simple actions like this can banish boredom and ensure that your 10 minutes of reading is something you look forward to and treasure.
Some children have supernova-levels of energy. Some have short attention spans. We get it. They’d rather be charging up and down the living room or fidgeting around than cosying up for a story. Though getting them to settle might seem like an impossible feat, a Storytime session might be the very thing you need. It’s all in the timing.
Your solution: Use Storytime to help your child transition from fully alert to that relaxed twilight state before sleep. Think of your 10 minutes of Storytime as meditation or a cool down. Make sure your child is in pyjamas to signal that bedtime is coming and it’s time to relax. Explain that this will be part of your bedtime routine from now on. Now take a deep calming breath (it’s not a bad idea to ask your child to take one too) and read for 10 minutes. There’s no more powerful relaxant for a restless child than a bedtime story.
So next time you’re faced with a barrier like the ones we’ve listed above, consider the benefits of reading to your child for 10 minutes a day. That’s roughly the length of one or two Storytime stories. You could even fit in one of our poems!
Yes, it will make your child a more confident and able reader. Yes, there are numerous other benefits, educational and otherwise. But the most compelling reason of all is that it sends a powerful message to your child. You’re telling them that you care enough to devote quality time to them doing something that brings pure and simple joy… reading. And that’s how to be the world’s best parent in just 10 minutes!
Did we cover your barriers to reading to your children? Has this helped you prioritise reading for 10 minutes a day? Let us know by getting in touch on our social media channels: Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Read and be brilliant this week,
*Picture credit: Picsea at Unsplash.