We’re all guilty of it: picking up that book we’ve been meaning to read only to put it down minutes later. Even as focused adults, our day pulls us in many different directions. So consider a child, whose mind is already going many miles per hour, and how it might feel to build reading stamina in such a fast-paced world.
Today’s fast-paced lifestyle lends itself to more—more information, more stuff, more distractions. When we’re faced with this reality, it’s no wonder why kids sometimes have a difficult time focusing as they sit down for their daily reading.
Luckily, the brain is like a muscle; in order to help it grow, you need to give it a workout. We can train our brains to help us focus for longer periods of time when reading.
When a child can focus for longer while reading, they naturally gain more focus and concentration in other areas. Building reading stamina also increases their ability to comprehend and summarize a text. Read on for some ways we can help build reading stamina in children.
Set Attainable Goals
The best way to begin to stretch the time your child spends reading is to set reachable goals. Start small, then grow. Doing this will not only give them confidence, but will show them that endurance is a process and an essential life skill.
If your child isn’t used to reading for twenty minutes each day, encourage them to read for five minutes each day for a week. Bump it up to eight, then ten, and slowly work up to a goal of twenty minutes each day.
These beginning, more attainable goals will also help your child “buy into” the idea of reading for a long period of time, especially if they’re resistant.
Create a Reading Space
One of the best things you can do for your child to increase their reading stamina is to make a special reading place for them. The place should be comfortable and in a space with minimal to no distractions. This not only will help them focus, but it says to them, “reading is special and should make you feel safe and comfortable.”
Even better, have your child create this space on their own to make it their own. By giving them ownership of this special reading spot, they will naturally want to spend longer periods of time in this little reading retreat. And, yes, this may mean letting them choose that all-too-colorful lamp or extra large bean bag chair to sit on.
Consistency is Key
In order to be successful in building reading endurance, consistency is absolutely vital. If your child is starting with small goals, this is especially important. After all, it isn’t exactly reading stamina if we aren’t training our brain to read each day. Essentially, that’s what stamina is!
Though it helps to be as consistent as possible, reading doesn’t have to take place at the same time or even the same place each day. Because each day brings its own set of interruptions, it’s possible that your child can’t always read in their special reading space or read at the same time each morning.
The key here is that with this kind of consistency you’re helping your child build their reading stamina. At the same time, you’re also showing them that reading is important and integrated into daily life.
Find Those “Just Right” Books
This is probably the most important of them all: be sure your child is reading a book that is at or slightly above their level. If a child is bored with a book they have because they’ve either read it so many times or because it’s too easy for them, their reading stamina will naturally fade. These children find themselves bored with what they’re reading and therefore easily distracted.
At the same time, a child who’s reading a book that’s too difficult for them will get easily frustrated and therefore their reading stamina will decrease.
Getting that “just right” book that’s not only at their level but also is of interest to them is a great formula for successful reading stamina. For a reference on how to do this, check out our blog post on how to choose the right book for your child.
Switch It Up
Feeling as though your child might be getting bored with the day-in-day-out reading? Don’t be afraid to switch it up! Introduce them to an audio book or a read-to-me book online.
They also don’t have to be reading the same exact book each day. If one day they want to read a poetry book and the next a graphic novel, let them! Allow them to use this time to explore different books and get a feel for what they like.
Of course, the entire twenty minutes of reading should not be switching from book to book. It’s important for them to choose one for that specific reading time and stick with it. If they don’t like it, fine. The great news is that they will be able to start fresh with a new book as soon as the next day!
There is nothing more rewarding than watching your child reach a goal that they’ve been after. Has your child’s reading stamina increased? Do you find them more focused and reading for more minutes than previously? Praise that!
Celebrate by buying a new book, bookmark, or cozy pillow for that desirable reading space. Keep it fun and keep it simple. If your rewards stick with the reading theme, this will also help them continue these reading goals.
In this fast-paced world, doing something for a long period of time can feel like a lost art. Taking the time to build your child’s reading stamina is beneficial to them as students. But it’s also beneficial to them as humans. It teaches them to be patient, to value endurance, to take the time to just–well, be.