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3 Essential Ways to Help Your Kids Love Reading As Much As You Do

3 Essential Ways to Help Your Kids Love Reading As Much As You Do

Reading opens our eyes to many different adventures and lifestyles that we may never experience any other way. It can take us to other lands and help us really use our imagination. However, as someone who loves to read, how do you pass along this passion to your child? How do you help your kids find as much joy in reading as you do?

First of all, it is a really good idea to just surround them with books and help make reading a positive experience for them to share with you. Here are some other great ideas to help you teach your kids how to love to read.

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Read to Them

Start reading to your children as soon as you possibly can. You will definitely be surprised by how much of a difference this can make. Even when they are a new born you can invest in sturdy baby board books and talk to them about the pictures. At this point, actually reading the words on the page is not completely necessary. As they grow a bit older most babies still won’t sit still long enough to listen to a book and this may frustrate parents.

However, be sure to sit with them and name the items on the pages. As their attention span lengthens, you may be able to actually start reading to them. After short stories with pictures, you can introduce books with short, engaging chapters. Discuss the characters and what you are reading about even when you aren’t sitting with the book. That can really help increase comprehension.

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Read With Them

bedtime
    Image via buzzpo.com

    Once your child learns to read for his/herself, don’t turn them loose! Pick books with easy words and read with them. Try having them read one sentence or paragraph and you read the next. Once they have mastered paragraph reading, move on to pages. Help with words that are difficult and gently correct misspoken words. Encourage them to sound out unfamiliar words, but stop if you seem him becoming frustrated.

    This should be an enjoyable time for both of you, separate from homework or other schoolwork. You can also allow them to go to the bookstore or library and pick books that interest them. You may even want to suggest different genres to see where their interests lie.

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    Read Around Them

    Children who see their parents read are more likely to see reading as a desirable activity. Keep age level appropriate books for each member of the house readily available at all times. Also, if you have a really great interest in books you could even get your masters in library science. That way you could work at a library and be able to share your great knowledge of books with your children. This would also help show them how much reading really means to you.

    If possible you could create a family library in your house. Maybe you could even make a family reading nook where family members can read together and enjoy each other’s company. You may even want to discuss the books that you are reading with your children. If there is a portion that might interest them, tell them about it! Even if it’s just a big dog that reminds you of fluffy, you can engage them in the world of your book and they will want to explore books for themselves.

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    There is definitely nothing better than being able to be fully emerged in a good book. That is why it is essential for you to start reaching out to your kids with reading now. You never know, by following these simple steps, you could potentially create a lifelong reader.

    Featured photo credit: http://www.pixabay.com via pixabay.com

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    Kara Masterson

    Freelance Writer

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    Published on May 7, 2021

    20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

    20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

    From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

    There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

    1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
    2. Introduce brain breaks.

    Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

    But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

    It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

    If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

    The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

    It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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    Active Brain Breaks

    Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

    1. Swapsies

    Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

    Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

    2. Dance Party

    Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

    3. Freeze Dance

    Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

    4. Keep It Up

    Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

    5. Simon Says

    This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

    6. Animal Movement

    Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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    7. Find It Fast

    “Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

    8. The Frog

    Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

    9. Pizza Delivery Time

    Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

    10. Limbo

    We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

    11. Human Knot

    Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

    12. Feather Balance

    This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

    13. Stack them high

    The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

    Relaxing Brain Breaks

    We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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    14. Meditation

    Meditation

    is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

    15. Kaleidoscope

    Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

    16. Reading/Listening to a Story

    When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

    17. Doodling

    My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

    18. Coloring Sheets

    Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

    19. Deep Breathing

    Deep breathing

    is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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    Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

    20. Going Outside

    Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

    My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

    How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

    The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

    I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

    Final Thoughts

    Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

    Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

    If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

    Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
    [2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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