Boy Talk #1: He Isn't Reading Yet
“He’s 5 and he isn’t reading yet…” a father worries.Strong reading and writing skills are essential to academic success and are key indicators for life-long economic success. It’s a fairly recent phenomenon that we’ve started worrying about whether our 5-year olds were reading.Sure, some boys and girls are reading voraciously by kindergarten, but there are many more who won’t read until much, much later. Most of those children will be boys.The reading expectations that were once 2nd grade turf have been pushed down into Kindergarten. These heightened expectations are not helping boys who are developmentally still geared toward active, gross motor play and haven’t yet developed the fine motor skills that are key components to reading.They aren’t ready to “stop, drop, and read” yet.Many simply aren't ready to read and no amount of worrying will speed this process.Boys and girls approach reading differently.Girls can typically sit quietly and read for long periods. Many boys, on the other hand, don’t see the point in sitting still and reading quietly. They view reading as a “female pursuit” as it is typically mom and female teachers that read with him at an early age.Boys and girls read for different results.Girls read for pure enjoyment. Boy, more often than not, read to discover how to do something. Directions, recipes, manuals, instruction books, graphic novels, dictionaries, and encyclopedias are all exciting reads for boys. They provide information in bite-size pieces and are usually accompanied by pictures and drawings.Trust your gut.Is he more interested in active play and less interested in reading? Will he focus with your encouragement? Does he seem interested but still struggles? Consider having his eyes checked by a Vision Therapist. This is more than just whether he needs glasses, it is checking to see that his eye muscles are strong and working in a coordinated way. Some children benefit greatly from Vision Therapy, correcting the issues that get in the way of efficient reading. Check with your eye doctor.
My Top 5 Tips for Getting Boys to Read
1. Let him move. Playing with blocks, drawing, or even just lying on the floor will help him listen better. Have him help to create a comfortable reading area – include beanbag chairs, pillows, and lots of floor space.2. Include food! Boys will do pretty much anything if food is involved. Read menus and order pizza. Read recipes and bake a cake.3. Provide ‘boy-friendly’ reading materials. Give him magazines, graphic novels, instruction manuals, diagrams, maps, catalogs, non-fiction, the sports pages, and joke books. Boys tend to read in shorter chunk-sizes than girls.4. Show him men who read. Boys often see women and girls reading and think it isn’t for them. Ask the men in his life to share what they read and why they read. Check out guysread.com, their goal is to help boys become “self-motivated, life-long readers.” Consider hiring a high school boy to hang out and read with your son.5. Turn off the media. Reading comes before screen time, always. Resist Kindles and ipads and encourage hands-on reading materials. Set a timer if you have to. You’ll know you’ve succeeded in capturing his reading interest when he doesn’t hear it ring.He may not think of himself as a “reader” so be sure to point out to him all the ways that he does read.Don’t forget to make friends with your local library. He will love having his own library card. They usually have great summer reading programs to give him added incentive to pick up a magazine, comic book, or graphic novel as well as a book.Read together and keep it active!
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