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Teachers as Learners - Teaching Kids to be Wild (Readers)

One of the greatest things you can do as a parent is encourage your child to be wild. Wild? You might think I’m crazy. As parents (and especially after the holidays) we try to strike a parenting balance: sugary treats with healthy eating, fun and games with tucking our kids in on time, as the cold weather keeps us inside, we try to make sure our kids are getting their wiggles out in healthy ways.

But the wild I’m not talking about is not in terms of behavior—I’m actually talking about being a wild reader. This term was coined by teacher and author Donalyn Miller. In her book Reading in the Wild, she speaks of ways that we can foster lifelong reading habits in children.

How can you encourage WILD behavior at home?

  • Wild readers CHOOSE. Reading research tells us that the best way for children to grow as readers is to allow them to choose books that are at their level. And being highly motivated to read something can actually enable children to read above their “official” level. Often what we see as adults as “too silly” or “too fun” are actually highly motivating and challenging reading for children. This “light” reading leads to children becoming more confident readers which will lead to…more reading!

  • Wild readers are PREPARED. Simply having books around can encourage children to become wild readers. Make sure that library books come out of backpacks and are in a visible place at home. When going for a short car ride or out to eat, have your child take a book along. As carrying a book with them becomes a habit, so does sneaking in minutes of reading during unexpected times throughout the day. These are minutes that add up.

  • Wild readers have EXAMPLES. Your actions speak loudly to your child. Practice and model reading as parents. This does not always have to be traditional reading or family story time—you can model reading behaviors by following a recipe as you bake, pointing out parts of directions as you assemble a new toy, or sharing an article in a sports magazine.

Cozy and inside, reading books and sipping hot chocolate may not seem like a wild way to spend your time this winter, but it is one of the most wild and wonderful gifts you can share with your child.

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