When your child enters first grade, the world of pre-school and kindergarten — with its typical focus on play and experiential learning — shifts gears to a more academic pace. Some kids make this transition easily, and others resist. If your child isn't motivated to do well in school, how can you help?
1. Make Reading Into a Game
Kara K.'s 7-year-old son has trouble reading, and he resists any efforts on her part to help. She worries that he might have a problem, but isn't sure how to tell. Gloria V. has an answer that seems to target both the resistance to intervention and to reading: Tape words around the house — to the door, onto appliances, objects, etc. Make a game out of reading! If your child can read 10 words in a row, or even five (you decide the goal), then he gets a reward. This can be particularly succesful if your child has a hard time sitting still long enough to read a book, as it allows him to be active while he reads.
2. Read at Home, and Choose Books Your Child Will Love
One reason kids resist reading is that they get frustrated because they are overwhelmed by new information and are asked to use skills that aren't yet fully developed. Another way to avert avoidance is to choose books with stories your child will love. Is she dinosaur-obsessed? Is he into spaceships? Chose books, at any level, whose stories themselves will compel your youngster to want to know more.
You can start by reading aloud, then hand off the responsibility to your child at any point. Or share each page, taking turns sentence by sentence. Collaboration is another way to peak interest without being overly pushy abou it. The trick is to find the right mix of interest and challenge (not too much, not too little), and to praise even for small accomplishments. Once your child's reading skills develop through genuine interest, he or she will much likely become more interested in the books on offer at school.
3. Have Your Child Evaluated for Dyslexia and Vision Problems
If your child's trouble persist, you should make sure there's no underlying issue such as dyslexia or vision problems. If not, then work to develop interest in reading by using the above strategies, or simply letting your child choose what to books practice with at home. Dont' ever assume that he's not interested, even though it might seem like this is the case, because the problem may be mroe about fear or shame than anything else.
4. Create a Reward System
Sabrina M.'s eight-year-old has a more general issue: lack of motivation for all things school-related. Sabrina is concerned that she can't get to the bottom of the problem, but meanwhile, several moms have offered good advice.
One suggests a reward system whereby the child earns "money" (play money with drawings of family members) that can be exchanged for specific rewards. For example, it costs $5 to go to a friend's house, but her child gets $1 back if he comes home on time. This kind of system could be very successful for school-related milestones and successes as well.
5. Partner with Your Child's Teachers
Still, if your child has general resistance to school, it's worth trying to figure out why. Try to have a heart-to-heart with your child to see if you can get any answers — and talk to teachers as well. But beyond that, your main job is to remain positive and keep your own motivations in mind. As J. points out, we should not be made to feel isolated from the people who spend so much time with our kids every day — enlist the help of teachers in solving the mystery.
Trina W.'s success story is inspiring. Her son resisted reading in first grade and, determined to help him, she spent the next year reading books with him on topics he loves — dinosaurs are a particular favorite. When he would get tired of reading, she wouldn't make a big deal of it; she would just read to him instead. Their work paid off. Her son is in second grade, and now loves to read!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.