Guardian Childcare & Education

Tips for Reading to Wriggly Children

20th April 2022

Reading to children from birth is the best introduction to the written word. It’s an introduction to a book as a physical object, as something to hold and with pages to be turned. It’s also an introduction to early literacy concepts and one of the foundations for understanding communication.

Reading to children tips Guardian

But what if your child isn’t interested in being read to?


Wriggling is wonderful

Wriggling is just a byproduct of being a toddler. Young children don’t sit down in large groups for long periods to read stories.

Your best bet is changing your expectations and realise that children will always move around. This doesn’t mean they’re not listening and learning.

One of our Guardian Educational Leaders explained that, in her experience, young children learn best through play.

“A great way to engage a child is by repeating a common phrase in a book or creating actions to help themselves explain the story,” she explains.

Beyond the page

Summarising the story and asking questions are great ways to keep a child’s interest.

Letting children choose the book can boost their interest level. It enables them to lead their learning and helps expand their decision-making confidence.

“When a child chooses a book, they’re excited to show their independence and share their choice with educators and peers. They are often highly engaged during the reading process,” says our Educator.

Reading their favourite books can also help children get excited about reading.

If your child is still not interested after this, don’t keep reading to the end just for the sake of finishing. Don’t pursue longer stories if it’s just not working.

Picture this

Another tool that readers have are illustrations, which children use to help them understand and contextualise a story.

As the saying goes, a picture tells a thousand words,’ – children notice everything, such as a character changing clothes from one page to the next.

“Storybook pictures open up learning experiences for children where they can tell the story to one another. We often encourage children to tell us the story by showing them the pictures or verbally telling the story using created actions instead of just reading the text,” reveals our Educator.

Our Guardian Educator’s top tips for reading to wrigglers

  1. Choose a story that will be engaging. Ask yourself if it’s age-appropriate, if the book’s length expects the child to listen for too long, and if it’s about something that holds their interests.
  2. It’s all about timing. Ask yourself what time of day you’re reading the story and if there are a lot of disruptions or noise surrounding the reading space.
  3. Involve the children as much as possible. Ask yourself how they can participate in the story when reading to children with common phrases and if there are opportunities to introduce actions.

If we’re honest with ourselves – wriggling is often more of a problem for us as the reader, not the child. Wriggling is not a guaranteed indication that a child isn’t engaged; watch them closely, and you’ll soon learn how they’re taking in the information, even while they look busy doing something else.

How does Guardian help a child’s literacy development?

Whether your child is six weeks or six years old, our Teachers and Educators are always observing – working to understand your child’s individual traits, likes and motivations. This means they’re better able to find what lights up each child’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.

Our Joy of Reading Program is developed for children of all ages. We include intentionally selected books that connect with children at each age stage to support their development of reading (e.g., themes of imagination, security, being different, being the same).

Team members are committed to reading books “out loud” every day and emphasise the rhythm, rhyme, and expression. Reading aloud encourages children to see themselves as readers. It teaches them that reading and being a reader are valued and important. This is what we mean when we talk about the Joy of Reading.

Want more information? We recommend reaching out to your Centre and talking to your friendly Centre manager for more information about what books they’re reading, which stories and songs your child is most responsive to during the day or why not just have a chat about how beautiful children’s books are.

Not enrolled at a Guardian Centre? Reach out and book a tour today.

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