The important gift you can offer your grandchildren

How you can instil confidence and enjoy some all-important quality time?

A precious gift for the grandkids

As my four children grew up, I put certain things away for the grandkids: the Duplo, the Lego, Junior Scrabble, a bag of marbles and … hundreds of books, including the one I received after completing grade one!

The grandkids deserve our unqualified love, patience, care, moral and behavioural guidance and lots of reading time – and I mean book time, not device time.

I believe reading skills are the foundation to a confident life. Children who struggle to read may struggle – at least for a time – in other areas. If they cannot read with ease, they may not be able to understand maths, the social sciences, street signs.

A recent study conducted by Curtin and Edith Cowan Universities found that more than one-quarter of primary school-aged respondents claimed they were never read to at home. Families may be time-poor, but finding time to read aloud to them is vital.

Reading with the grandkids seems a simple enough task, but is there any expert advice that may be useful? Here are five tips, as reported in The Conversation.

1. Give it all your attention
It’s probably pointless to read to the grandkids if they are restless, hungry or just plain cranky, so pick your time and then give it all your attention. Switch off phones and other devices, and don’t read with the TV or radio on in the background. Make sure you are all comfortable and read with animation. You’re sure to lose them if you read in a monotone.

2. Engage with the story and the child
Keep your grandchild involved. Ask questions, repeat words, point to words or images, let them control the pace. Be prepared to read the same book many times if it is their favourite. For older grandchildren, ask them what they think will happen next. Make them think. Share your response to a book and get them to do likewise.

3. There’s no age limit
Start reading to your grandchild as early as you can engage them. It might only be for a matter of seconds at first, but even that will hopefully nurture a love of books and may set them up with confident reading skills before they head to school.

And never give up. Research in the UK found struggling adolescent readers made remarkable gains in reading comprehension when books were read to them at school.

4. Pick a book you both enjoy
When they’re very young, let your grandchild pick from a selection. Later on, try to broaden the offering beyond what you know they like.

Don’t be afraid to start reading chapter books to them while they’re very young. The child’s attention span will determine when you can do this, but it’s possible to start while they’re still pre-schoolers. Just make sure the story isn’t too complex.

5. Don’t worry too much about your style
Not all of us are destined to be award-winning voice actors, but try to use expression and adopt different voices for the characters in a book.

If you can, take the grandkids to your local library. You could go for reading time sessions or just to explore and borrow.

What importance do you place on reading aloud to the grandchildren? Were you read to as a child? Did you read aloud to your children?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    2nd May 2018
    I have a wonderful reading relationship with my four grandchildren. The benefits of sharing language and stories at an early age can never be underestimated. The anticipation, the questions, the sharing has the benefit of establishing reading readiness and proficiency. But much more than that it is pure joy. As Dr Suess once said - You can't teach reading as a science, love gets mixed up with it.
    2nd May 2018
    My 11month old granddaughter has had books around her all her short (so far) life. She loves them. She will spend over an hour just sitting on the floor looking at the books we have for her. She loves going through them with us and making the sounds of the animals, lifting the flaps to see what's underneath, and touching the different surfaces on the feely books. She also loves trying to make the sounds of words like 'bird' and will point to all the birds in a book and try to say 'bird'. At the moment we can read very short books to her, but she also likes turning to her favourite pages in longer picture story books and having us talk about them to her.
    2nd May 2018
    Hi SAC and hanakawa, have you been on that "very special course on how to read to children" that the government wants to spend $1.5 million on.!!! Of course you haven't, all it takes is common sense, patience ,and of course love.
    2nd May 2018
    is Emily telling the Friday funnies this Wednesday
    2nd May 2018
    When you look at all the things this man is supposed to do, you have to wonder.
    2nd May 2018
    I loved reading to my grandsons when they were small and they loved it too. However, now older, one is an avid reader. The other one unfortunately doesn’t enjoy reading even though he was read to every night
    3rd May 2018
    try giving the grandson who isnot keen on reading , comics current to some movies eg some Marvel comics, any reading is better than none .
    Perhaps a book on something he is passionate about at this time , or even go to a movie taken from a book eg Harry Potter introduced many children to reading who previously were not interested.
    Hope this helps

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