The December holidays are here people; or do we say the November/December holidays? Didn’t the year just commence the other day? Oh fine, here we are, with our children having up to 9 weeks break from school. 9 WEEKS! Are you already thinking of shipping them off upcountry? I hope not.
The way we see it here at Learning Gaps Center, as a parent, you’re a teacher too. You should be excited, drawing up your time-table for the 2 month period. This is a prime opportunity to impart values, knowledge and skills that are not taught in school, and even enforce those taught.
One of the most helpful interests that you can nurture in your child is the love for reading – and here we’re talking of non-academic books. Story books, simple biographies, picture books and so on. Reading for leisure will help your child improve even in academics as it helps develop vocabulary, strengthen analytical thinking and increase attention span.
Left to themselves, most kids will watch TV and play video games all day. In some residential areas there are hardly any playing areas, further confining the children indoors. Reading becomes a viable and beneficial alternative. Here are some simple tips to encourage reading:
- Involve them in Selecting
Go out and buy the books together. Children love the idea of acquiring something new. They will be excited to browse the isles and flip various books at the bookshop. Help them select age appropriate books. Get them 1 or 2 each according to your budget. They won’t even be thinking of reading then, they’ll just be excited they got something new.
- Buy Practical Books
A books on art/science activities, recipe book or one teaching on playing of instruments is appealing since it teaches the children a new activity. It becomes a reference point. Once they make a connection between the book content and real life, then reading will no longer be viewed as a task.
- Set aside Reading Time
Your children can watch TV 12 hours a day or even more if you let them, but you don’t have to let them. Together, draft a time-table that sets apart some reading time. Involve them, otherwise they’ll be left feeling like you’re breathing rules down their necks. Reading in the evening works best.
- Talk about what they Read
How do you know that they’re really reading, not just lying low waiting for the TV to come back on? Engage them on what they’re reading. Let them narrate the stories to you in their own words. You can even get them to write down summaries. This will help hold them accountable; knowing they’ll be questioned about what they read.
- Take them to the Library
Kenya National Library has a vast selection of books for children of all ages. If you’re in Nairobi, the new library complex on Ngong Road has a fully-fledged wing for children, with much more space compared to the old building. Being around so many recreational books will likely trigger an interest to explore what they have to offer.
The new curriculum is aimed at enabling children actually learn, not just memorize things for exam purposes. CBC exposes children to the practical world, and recreational reading will help them achieve just that.
What else can you do to help your child plug into the new curriculum? Well, we hope to discuss just that in a parents’ seminar slated for the 3rd of November at All-Saints Cathedral from 1 – 4pm. See more details here.