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How to tell when your child has had enough



There is a very narrow line between ‘I can’t be bothered to read,’ and ‘I am sooo tired,’ and you will help your child far more if you know exactly where that line lies.

Here are a few telltale signs that will tell you when to call it quits.

If your child’s…

  • attention is constantly moving to something else;
  • eyes are not consistently on the book;
  • ears are trying to hear what someone else in the room is saying;
  • body language shows he/she is not comfortable and  is trying to get away;
  • Yawning persistently;

Then he/she is saying ‘I don’t want to be here.’ ‘I can’t be bothered with this now.’

So simply tell him he can stop reading and go on to whatever he wants to do, but when you want him to read again, make sure you are on your own with him and that you are calm and unstressed – even if only for the few minutes he is reading!  Then, keep the reading short – only a sentence or two if the child is struggling. If he/she concentrates well, give a small reward – a sweet, perhaps, but even a hug will do!

If your child…

  • doesn’t sit up and read, but lolls over the table;
  • takes longer than usual to read words he knows;
  • gets cross with himself for not remembering a word;
  • seems unusually quiet, or maybe irritable;

Then your child is saying, ‘I can’t keep my eyes open – I am soooo tired, please don’t make me read any more.’  Tell him that he can stop at the end of the sentence, indicating the last word you want him to read – so long as it is no more than a few words.   Then reward him for trying.  It might also be necessary to re-think bedtime. A child does get very tired after a day at school, and it is essential that he/she has enough sleep to cope with each day. I have seen children fail at school simply because they don’t get enough sleep.

If you feel that your child has had enough, just stop reading for today – maybe even take a break tomorrow as well. Reading is meant to be fun, not a chore. Your child will learn much more quickly and willingly when they feel rested and their enthusiasm returns.


Next: How to encourage boys to read >>


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