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by Fiona Ingram, a  South African writer who loves books, travel, animals, antiques, and adventures of all kinds! Read Fiona’s author site and find out about her recently published children’s adventure novel

Reading with your child is a wonderful pastime with so many benefits. Not only does this special ‘together time’ strengthen the bond between you and your child, there are other positive results. You’ll see the growth of your child’s vocabulary, awareness of the world, social behavior skills, listening skills, confidence, and many other developmental aspects. However, in a busy day filled with work, chores, ferrying to and from school, where does the frazzled parent find time to capture those few precious moments called ‘free time?’ Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate reading together for the family with not much time to spare.

Reading doesn’t always have to involve books. Our world is full of text. Use it! A busy parent can create a fun game in the car where the child reads road signs, billboards, helps with a road map, or spots registration number plates and creates words with the letters.

Shopping? The supermarket is a great place for looking for labels, reading labels, helping with the shopping list, and checking the listed ingredients on a tin or packet.

Credit: imagesbot.com

Credit: imagesbot.com

Have fun while you cook. If you’re busy, have your child read something to you while you’re preparing dinner. This time it can be a book they are currently enjoying, something from the newspaper or their choice of magazine. Encourage your child to express an opinion about what they are reading to you. This will draw your child closer to you because your interest will cement the bond between you. Children love being the focus of their parents’ attention, and especially when they are doing something special with the parent.

Kids love baking! Make cookies and candy even more fun by getting your child to read the recipe to you first while you collect all the ingredients required. Then they can continue reading the instructions while you perform the task. Later (while the family is eating the cookies) you can say how much help they were. Praise is vital to your child’s performance. It boosts their confidence and makes them want to do this again.

Dining out? Your child can have fun reading the menu and deciding what they want to eat. Having friends over for dinner? Ask your child to create a beautiful illustrated menu to show your guests. Most kids love the opportunity to get out those crayons and coloring pencils.

Audio books are a wonderful way of helping your child concentrate and develop listening skills while you’re driving. After a few minutes, stop the tape and ask your child questions about what they just heard. Make it interesting by asking what they think will happen next, or what they would do in a certain situation. This will help your child engage in the literary process in a fun way.

Find time in tiny bites. Don’t think that reading to or with your child involves 60-minute marathons. Just before bed is a special time between parent and child. Just 10-15 minutes every evening is possible, and will reap marvellous rewards.

Whatever you do and however much time you manage to squeeze out of your day for reading with your child will all be beneficial. It’s not the daily amount of time that is so important; it’s the quality of your word time together that counts. Don’t forget to have fun because that’s what it’s all about!

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