Easy Ways to Designate Space for Reading With Your Child

Easy Ways to Designate Space for Reading with your Child
Via DecoratingRoom.net

Guest Blog Post From, Danielle Hegedus

The Children’s Reading Foundation recommends reading with your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Reading with your children at an early age (even in infancy) is key to language development, listening skills, and overall academic performance. Read on for suggestions on how to create the space and time necessary to foster a love of reading in your child, making reading an important aspect of your relationship.

Keep Plenty of Reading Material On Hand

Building a library for your child doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for book fairs held at your local schools, libraries, churches and community centers. Also hit up yard sales and thrift stores. Talk to parents in your community about setting up a book swap to keep the books in your child’s library fresh. You can also sign up for magazine subscriptions or check out Zoobean to give your child new reading materials to look forward to each month.

Via Project Nursery

Create a Kid-Friendly Reading Nook

If you’re trying to convince your kids to read at the kitchen table while you prepare dinner, it will feel like a chore. Instead, make reading a special treat for your child by creating a space where they want to hang out. A reading nook just needs good lighting, a comfortable place to sit, and plenty of books. This converted closet provides a comfortable and inviting space for your child to curl up with a book. It also provides convenient storage to build a home library.

Via DecoratingRoom.net

I love this whimsical tent with festive lights and comfortable pillows. Child or adult, who wouldn’t want to hang out in here? Reading is an adventure and this unique reading nook only adds to the excitement.

Va DecoratingRoom.net

Take Reading Time Beyond the Page

You can make reading more interesting to kids by using fun voices for different characters, but you can take it to the next level with a puppet show. Put on a few puppet shows for your kids so that they understand how they work, and then let them run the show. After you read a book with your children, work together to make simple puppets out of thick construction paper or cardstock and popsicle sticks. I love this set up (pictured) because there is no real construction involved. Simply purchase a large tri-fold display board and decorate it to your liking. With time, you puppet shows can evolve into original works created by your children!

Via Tonya Stabb

My friend sets up a mini talk show set and encourages her 3-year-old daughter to interview various people in her life. Not only is it adorable, but it really builds her confidence and her vocabulary. Set up two chairs and a faux microphone and encourage your children to pretend to be characters from the book you just read. They can take turns interviewing and role-playing as various characters. “Mr. Caterpillar, just why are you so hungry?”

Via Pinterest

Walk and Talk With Your Kids

Taking a walk in a park or just in the neighborhood is good for everyone in the family. Add to the benefits of fresh air and exercise by being mindful about the conversation you have with your children. Ask them to point out things that start with the same sound, like a flower and a fence. Encourage them to find objects in their environment that rhyme like tree and bee. Mess For Less has a fun template for a neighborhood I-Spy game. Growing Book by Book also has a fun activity for early readers working on learning the alphabet–a backyard dig!

Stacey Joyner, a reading specialist and program associate with Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) Texas Comprehensive Center says, “By helping your child learn to hear the different sounds in words, you are supporting one of the critical skills that children need in order to learn to read well. That skill is called phonemic awareness. By hearing and saying rhymes, singing songs, and clapping syllables, children focus on the sounds in the words.”

Make the Most of Your Commute With Audiobooks

Sitting in traffic is no picnic for anyone, but it can be an opportunity to make the most of having your child’s undivided attention. Between iTunes and Audible.com and hundreds of free family friendly podcasts, there are opportunities for new lessons every car trip. According to Reading Rockets, some of the benefits of audiobooks for young readers include:

  • Introducing students to books above their reading level
  • Modeling good interpretive reading
  • Teaching critical listening
  • Introducing new genres that children might not otherwise consider
  • Introducing new vocabulary or difficult proper names or locales
Via Apartment Therapy

Audiobooks are also a great idea for travel during family vacations. Ditch the DVD player and allow the whole family to enjoy a story that you can later discuss. It will also help head off sibling bickering and the inevitable chorus of, “are we there yet?” Goodreads has a great list of recommended audiobooks that are great for kids.

Embrace Technology

Though parents seem more mindful of the amount of screen time that their kids get these days, it would be foolish to ignore all of the great technology that can help encourage kids to read. Imagination Soup has a long list of recommended apps that can not only help your child become a better reader, but also utilize reward systems similar to video games to motivate your children to continue to improve and master new material. Talk to you child’s teacher and find out what they are using in the classroom that you may also be able to build on at home.

Via MessforLess

Have Patience

Your child may take a while to develop a love for reading. Their resistance may be because it feels like a chore, or because they feel like they are not good at it. Continue to encourage them. Model your own love of reading. Pick up smaller, more digestible reading like magazines or even blogs on topics in which you know they have an interest. Most of all, be supportive of them in their struggles with reading. Cereal boxes, billboards, or sports scores might not seem sufficient to you, but encouraging and rewarding all reading can give a child the confidence to take on new challenges.


Danielle Hegedus is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA. She currently writes about home décor ideas and inspiration for Modernize.com.

4 Ways to Encourage Preschoolers to Get a Kick out of Cleanup

How many times a day do you pick up after your little ones? All day, right?

I’m excited to introduce our guest blogger, Liz Greene who has some wonderful tips in to encourage preschoolers to cleanup after themselves.

4 ways to encourage cleanup

As a child, I would have a mini meltdown whenever my mother told me to clean my room. The task seemed so much larger than me. Where did I begin? Where did everything go? How was I supposed to do it all on my own? These early experiences led me to feel anxiety every time I was asked to do any chore – large or small.

As an adult, I am organized enough to handle any mess, and I keep a spotless home. However, I still dread cleaning. From washing the dishes to vacuuming the floors, my abrupt introduction to cleaning has left housework feeling more like a burden than a benefit.

I always imagined that all small children approached cleanup with the same apprehension that I did – that is, until I became a preschool teacher. I watched as my co-workers directed the children’s cleanup efforts like a well-tuned orchestra, and the kids happily played along.

So how exactly did the teachers get the kids to join in cleanup without as much as a complaint? It was surprisingly easy!

Make it Simple

You know that old saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”? Yeah, that’s a big deal for your little ones. Make sure every toy, game, and piece of clothing has an easily accessible home, and then make a label for it. Pre-readers will need graphic labels, but I recommend including large type words as well to encourage early reading skills. When children know where things belong, it eases the cleanup process immensely.

Make it Fun

No one likes tedious tasks – not adults, and especially not children. Little minds need stimulation, and cleanup time shouldn’t be an exception. Here are some fun ideas to make cleanup a game they’ll enjoy:

  • “Let’s See How Fast We Can Clean Up!” — a speedy competition to see how quickly kids can clean a room while working together.
  • Categorized Cleanup – Issue challenges to each child such as:
    • “Put away everything that is shaped like a rectangle.”
    • “Find toys that are red and put them where they belong.”
    • “If you can wear it on your body, put it away.”
  • Mission: Impossible – Give each child a mission to cleanup certain toys or complete specific chores. Play the Mission: Impossible theme song to make it extra fun.

Make it Musical

One of my favorite ways to make my own housework pass quickly is to put on some of my favorite music. The next time you ask your kids to clean up, throw on one of their favorite songs and race to finish cleaning before the song is over. It’s a lot easier to get moving when there’s an awesome beat to get moving to. You can even create a playlist specifically for cleaning!

Make it Rewarding

Sometimes kids need a little more incentive than games or music to get their work done. In those cases, a small reward can be incredibly motivational. I’m not talking about anything major here, just a little something to sweeten the deal. Here are some of my favorite cleanup rewards:

  • A picnic lunch in the newly cleaned space.
  • Half an hour of a favorite TV show or video game.
  • Cuddle/story time with three treasured books.
  • Choice of dinner (let them pick a favorite!)
  • A trip to the park

Cleanup time doesn’t have to be a hassle if you make it enjoyable for your little ones. By adding a little fun in with that elbow grease, you can instill a love of cleaning that will last a lifetime.

Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene

The Puzzler

Puzzler 2

Guest Post from Emily Mullen, CCLS 

After breakfast on a rainy Sunday morning, I opened up a new toddler puzzle leftover from Christmas. My 2 ½ year old son was thrilled to see this new play item before him. He already understood the link-pieces-together concept of puzzles from watching me in the past and immediately zoned in with intent. His toddler instinct to imitate was in full force. With a smile on his face he used phrases like “oh this one goes here” and “oh maybe not” and “there it goes!” He picked up piece after piece linking them together, rotating them and moving them to new spots.

As I sat with him, in awe of his focus and determination, I decided to put “teaching” aside for the moment to let him work. I resisted the urge to reach for puzzle pieces, but gladly accepted those that he handed to me. I kept myself from offering suggestions or redirecting his behavior while he played. Instead, I described my observations of his play (“You found a spot for the frog piece!”) and made statements that reflected the content of his own comments (“You’re looking for a new spot for that one.”)

We soon found ourselves deep in the midst of a child-directed play session. He had the steering wheel, and I was enjoying the ride. After a short while he had his own finished product. With a smile from ear to ear he exclaimed, “Mom look! There’s there puzzle!”

A quick glance at the photograph below is enough to see that the arrangement of puzzle pieces did not match the product’s intended image. Yet my son applauded his efforts and walked away with an obvious sense of accomplishment. In this morning’s moments of toddler play, he decided the goal was simply giving each puzzle piece a home. (As he had previously observed the purpose of a puzzle to be!) He chose his goal, and directed his behavior accordingly. As a result, he left the play experience with increased confidence to face a challenge and practice in problem solving (for example, rotate a puzzle piece until it fit).

We will find many moments for “adult directed” learning experiences; my son has plenty of opportunity to follow instructions from me all day. On this Sunday morning, though, he learned important skills to apply to any future challenge – adult or child driven. So we ended our puzzle play and celebrated his way because as my son proclaimed, “ There’s the puzzle!”

Engaging in child-directed playtime can have great benefits for children’s development. As children grow they follow constant instructions from adults to guide their learning of basic skills (how to brush teeth, how to wash hands), basic knowledge (counting, colors, shapes) and basic cultural behavior (saying please and thank you, using indoor voices). Providing children with safe opportunities to be in control of play allows them time to think about how the world works, explore their own ideas, and experience self-discovery.

More About the Author:

Emily is a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and full-time mom to a wonderful 2 ½ year old boy. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Psychology from Stonehill College in Easton, MA and an M.S. in Therapeutic Recreation with a Child Life concentration from Springfield College in Springfield, MA . She worked full-time teaching Therapeutic Recreation and Child Life courses at Springfield College through the summer of 2012 when her son was born. She has recently returned to Springfield College as adjunct faculty. She additionally worked in the field as a CCLS at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, CT for 4 years.