Whether it’s at the hairdresser or in the supermarket, if I mention I am an English teacher, the first response is ‘Ohhh! My son hates reading. What would you recommend?’ or ‘Oh how do I get my daughter to want to pick up a book?’ My stomach flips, my heart drops and I instantly want the ground to swallow me up.
I’ve heard these questions a thousand times. And I get it. We all want our children to be Matilda, don’t we? Happily thumbing their way through Moby Dick.
Sadly, the Matildas (and the Miss Honeys) among us are what I like to refer to as ‘unicorns’. They’re a rare but beautiful thing.
I want to let you in on a few secrets behind your child’s reading habits.
- Stop comparing – as Roosevelt said so perfectly, ‘comparison is the thief of joy.’ Your child will not do ANYTHING in the same way or at the same pace as anyone else. Development is a moving target. Some children just have a delay but catch up over time.
- Your child will talk about you at school – oh, the secrets that have been revealed by some students. English especially allows for creativity that reveals all manner of secrets. Some of which have made for some very…interesting parent’s evenings. Children hear EVERYTHING.
- If you hate reading, your child will too – we know you try to hide it. But if you’re not picking up a book or choosing an audiobook over reading with your child, they will not want to read themselves. They need to SEE you read. This way they will recognise it as a normal and every-day habit.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to me – I’m fully aware that every single child in my classroom is the centre of someone’s universe. Obviously I have about 150 other children to be responsible for. But I respect your concerns and am happy to answer any question. It is our job after all.
- Data and levels aren’t everything – just like passing your driving test is no measure of how good of a driver is. What’s more important to your child’s academic career is how HAPPY they are and what they enjoy. That’s what will help me to tailor things to make your child confident and happy at school.
- Thank you – we know you’re trying your best. Sometimes pack lunches get forgotten, homework is missed and you forget about school picture day. That’s okay. You’re doing an amazing job and we appreciate that.