When you think “stamina” do you think about running a marathon or cleaning the house from top to bottom because you’re having a big party today? Are you wondering what stamina has to do with your child’s reading? If so, you’re not alone. Back in the day when I was an at-home Mom trying to get five youngsters to crack a book, stamina was not a word I associated with reading. It wasn’t until I was working on my Reading courses that I began to make the connection. As it turns out, stamina has much to do with your child’s ability to become a successful reader throughout the intermediate grades or beyond.
Reading stamina simply means the amount of time a person is able to read with sustained interest and comprehension. Reading stamina is linked to reading volume, both of which are crucial to success in school and life. Let me explain. When students are able to read for an extended period of time, without becoming distracting, they are able to take in enough textual information to understand more deeply and increase their interest and enjoyment of the text.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where information is offered in small bits and communication takes the form of short messages and videos. Distractions abound and fewer young people are able to stay focused. Consequently, many students are unprepared to tackle the volume of reading that is required as they move through the grades. This is a red flag for parents and teachers alike. We must work together to help kids build their reading stamina. In my opinion, that’s easier to do than you might think. Here are five simple steps you can take to foster reading stamina in your children:
1. Find High-Interest Independent Reading Books
As we all know, it is far easier to stay with a book that engages us, than one that bores us to death. It is well worth your efforts to guide your child towards those books that fall within his independent reading level and pique his interest. Check back for a post in the near future for valuable tips on finding a “just-right” book.
2. Track Progress
Kids love a challenge. Make a game out of helping them increase reading stamina by tracking their progress. For a few weeks, set a timer each time your child sits down to read. Increase it by a few minutes (maybe two or three) each time. Challenge your child to stay focused on the text for the entire time. Chart his progress is some way and maybe even offer a reward if he can attain a certain level.
3. Read Aloud
Read aloud to get your child started and stop at an exciting portion of the text. Listening level is always higher than reading level, so at that point your child should have a good sense of what is occurring in the text and is more likely to be able to read on for a sustained period of time.
4. Eliminate Distractions
Many youngsters are very easily distracted. Consider helping your child find a quiet reading spot in the house that removes him from the rest of family, the TV, cell phones and noise. Peek in periodically to see how he’s doing. Set him up for success and you may be surprised by the improvement in his reading stamina.
5. Talk With Your Child’s Teacher
If you are especially concerned with your child’s ability to stay focused on text, have a conversation with your child’s teacher. The teacher may be able to give you some other more individualized suggestions and discussing reading stamina may help her consider how she is fostering reading stamina in her classroom.
Perhaps some of you have some other tricks up your sleeve you would be willing to share. Stamina is an essential element of reading. Students that are unable to focus and read a high volume of text will be left behind in this era of rigorous curriculum and high standards. Please add your suggestions to this discussion.