8 Read-Aloud Tips for Your Fidgeting Child
Do your kids have a hard time sitting still during the read-aloud time? You are in good company. Most of our kids have trouble sitting for five minutes, so sitting still for 20 minutes or longer seems like an impossibility.
Let me tell you a secret - it's not impossible, and working on your child's ability to listen to a read-aloud story is a great goal. Our family makes it a goal to read aloud for 20 minutes each day, and the kids look forward to that time. However, it wasn't always enjoyable for me. I didn't understand why my son, my second born, wasn't able to sit still and listen. It made me doubt my choice to read-aloud each day.
However, we kept trying, and I found some tips to help reading-aloud to my fidgeting child. With some practice and a lot of patience, this time is no longer a struggle.
1. Be Physical First
I never place our read-aloud time early in the morning. My kids need physical activity first before we settle in to read. That might look like sending my two oldest kids out to ride their bike while I make lunch or encouraging them to climb on our jungle gym dome.
2. Pick the Right Time
My kids are maniacs right after breakfast. They had their eight or more hours of sleep, a hearty breakfast, and they aren't ready to sit and be quiet! Instead, I moved reading time to midafternoon. By this time, they played and ate lunch, and they already accomplished more of their schoolwork.
3. Keep Their Hands Busy
I have the most successful read-aloud times whenever I give my kids something to do with their hands. Most often, that means coloring pictures. Other options include:
- Playing with Playdoh
- Building with Legos
- Cutting and gluing construction paper shapes
- Making paper dolls
The options are endless. We just have one rule - they need to be quiet. So, the kids can virtually do anything if its quiet and doesn't involve a screen. No tablets or cell phones are allowed while we read.
4. Play Audiobooks in the Car
We shuffle back and forth to practices and field trips a lot. Our family stays busy! That leaves a lot of open time. Sometimes the kids watch a beloved movie in the car, but I often plug in a new audiobook for them to listen to and enjoy. It gives them a different perspective of reading aloud. It's not mom or dad reading to them!
5. Read During an Eating Time
Tea time is the main time when we read, and the kids have hot tea and snacks. Some moms like to read a story to their children as they eat their lunch. Others read a story while the kids eat breakfast. Pack a picnic, head to the park, and read while the kids eat!
6. Turn Off Distractions
I know I feel distracted if there are too many sounds going on around me. I can't have my cell phone nearby and the TV playing a show I enjoy. Instead, I play classical music softly in the background, typically whatever composer we are studying for the semester. There is no way my son can enjoy listening to me read if the TV has a cartoon!
7. Set a Timer for Reading
You might want to read for hours on end - I know I do! Your kids might not feel the same way, or they might just not be able to sit for that long. Setting a timer shows your child that there is a definite end in sight for the sitting down part of his day. He will know that, when the timer goes off, he can go off to his next adventure.
8. Ask Questions!
As you read, ask your kids questions about the story. That might look like pointing out pictures for the younger kids or posing serious questions for your older ones. Ask them what they think the character is feeling. See if they have any predictions about what will come next.
Your fidgeting child isn't a reflection upon you or your parenting. Children aren't meant to sit still - seriously! It's who they are, and your child is normal. What we must do is meet our children right where they are and help them learn how to control those fidgets. You can gradually make those reading times longer. Soon, your children will look forward to this time together, and picking new books will become a treat.