Nal'ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, engaged in a series of workshops with the Goldilocks and The Bear Foundation to understand how children with ADHD can be encouraged to read for pleasure.
Below are nine practical tips for caregivers that can make a big difference in making reading time an enjoyable time for all.
1. Make reading part of the daily routine
Children with ADHD often struggle to process time, tasks, and thoughts. Having a set routine helps them to know what to do at particular times, and to understand when and where to do things.
Making reading part of this routine is a great way to ensure it becomes a daily habit. And, the more children read, the better they become at it, and the more they enjoy it!
Just before bed is a good time as children are usually more relaxed and, if a parent/caregiver has not seen much of their child during the day, it's also a good bonding time.
2. Choose appropriate reading material
Reading material which is not too complex will help keep children engaged and happy. Some children with ADHD can be up to two years behind other children in terms of their learning ability.
It is important to keep this in mind and to consult with your child's caregivers as to the level of reading material that would be appropriate.
3. Give your child a turn to choose
Children with ADHD often feel overwhelmed. Allowing them to help choose the reading material will help them to feel empowered and trusted by you. It will also help build anticipation toward the activity, making reading something to look forward to!
4. Make a special place for reading
Having a special place that is quiet, comfortable and free from toys and other distractions like iPads or television will enable you, like the one in charge, to help steer your child's attention towards reading.
5. Encourage reading out loud
Your child feels comfortable when he or she sees you taking the lead, so take turns reading aloud. It is also important to understand some of the ADHD-associated challenges your child may have, such as dyslexia. Knowing how to cope with these will aid in reducing the frustration your child might encounter when reading.
6. Take regular rest breaks
Taking breaks will help your child deal with restlessness and the challenge of having to concentrate for extended periods. There are several ways that breaks can be used to get more out of the reading experience.
Try breaking the story up into chunks, pausing to talk about what's going on in the story or acting out a part of the story or doing other related actions.
7. Have a fidget toy or object
Having a toy or an object like a simple rubber band to fidget with while you encourage them to read aloud can help children with ADHD remain calm and focused.
8. Create a reading rewards chart
A reward chart is a great way to explain to your child what is expected and why. It can help children display the expected behaviour that can lead to a successful reading period. A chart is also a useful way to track all the books your child has read and can be referred back to with pride.
9. Be patient and positive!
Children who struggle academically for any reason, need to have their confidence built; not broken. It is important to be clear, consistent, and positive.
Tell your child what he or she should do, not just what they should not do. Set boundaries and be clear about expected behaviour during the reading time but be sure to frame this in a positive light.
Share your stories and questions with us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anonymous contributions are welcome.
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