Sneaking in an English Lesson

Hi everyone, today I wanted to talk about how I get C to do English lessons – by stealth! My wonderful son has until very recently (the last month!) refused to read fiction books bigger than picture books. He is still an avid reader, but has up until recently preferred reading non-fiction. And writing …well that’s a challenge that we and the OT are meeting one day at a time.

As I have previously talked about, book reviews are a no-no. They managed to completely turn him off small chapter books for months, even ones on Marvel Superheros, a firm favourite topic.

So how do I encourage my reluctant reviewer, writer/ fiction book reader? Well I have a few strategies that have slowly started to make a difference.

1. Verbal Reviews
When C finishes a book, whether it’s a picture book, Dr Seuss, a text-book, or most recently a real-life fiction book, I’ll gently insert questions into our conversation. So what was it about? What’s your favourite bit? Was there anything funny? Who’s in the story? Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, but sometimes I get a full on review and plot synopsis! This can give me a good idea about whether he enjoyed the book, and by how much.

2. Fiction by Stealth
We’ve been slowly suggesting that C try different books – DH will usually be able to suggest good comic books, and I will usually trawl the Junior readers section at the library for books that might interest C. Sometimes they’re even a hit! One type of book that has been a real hit are books that mix fiction and fact, like “George and the Big Bang” by Lucy and Stephen Hawking.

Image of a child's handwritten story
C’s First Book – Page 2: The Kangasuba

3. Writing by Stealth
I try to incorporate writing in little ways into his day – letters to family, grocery lists, word games. C has really taken some of these on-board – he loves making his own card and board games, and will happily design and create elaborate map-boards and cards – having to write neatly is essential for game play!

These methods are starting to bear fruit – C has now embarked on writing his own chapter book – so far he’s up to Chapter 3 and still going strong! Eventually, we may be able to branch out into plot and character creation, though that may take a while. C’s book at present reads remarkably like a manual!

4. Reading Out-Loud
I always try an incorporate a little bit of reading out-loud into our school-work. If I can’t coax C into reading, then I’ll usually pick a topic that might interest him, and read a chapter from a book, or a magazine article, or even an online blog! I have even been known to sneak a bit of Shakespeare into our lives by reading a good monologue on occasion.

It is vitally important to me to make sure, no matter what method we use, that we preserve C’s love of words and reading. As well as his confidence to learn and play with our marvellous mother tongue.

As Dr. Seuss says,

“The more that you read, the more things you will know.
The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

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