Between eating a healthy breakfast, packing lunches, and brushing teeth, frantic mornings can feel like a difficult time to encourage your child to read, but there are activities the whole family can do that promote literacy.
With simple and fun activities, incorporating reading into your morning routine is doable. In fact, reading can establish a positive morning routine for the entire family, even if your child didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Plus, it will leave everyone in a good mood to start their day.
Here, Dr. Gina Pepin, PhD, Upper Michigan Teacher of the Year and author of The Power of Joyful Reading, shares five realistic ways you can start your mornings with family reading time. These great tips will help you end the power struggle and establish a stress-free morning routine.
“Incorporating these reading activities into a daily routine helps a family’s morning run more smoothly,” says Pepin. “The predictable environment helps children to feel safe and secure, develop life skills, build healthy habits, and create a sense of belonging. The following activities will also contribute to language and literacy skill development.”
Use 'Precious Print'
Reading opportunities are quite literally everywhere: wall signs, food labels, and notes on the fridge. You won’t always have the time to sit down and open a book while you eat breakfast as a family — and that’s OK! The important thing is consistency and teaching your child to associate reading with positive emotions. So, when the kids wake up and you’re strapped for time, use anything and everything to encourage reading in your school morning routine.
“Precious print includes environmental print, family names, sight words, words from your favorite stories, quotes, songs etc.,” says Pepin. “It also includes word walls, an alphabet chart, labels with and without icons/pictures, family names. Even street signs by bedrooms, labels for places to hang/store backpacks, jackets, shoes etc. are great!”
Turning precious print into a fun morning game is incredibly effective, especially for younger kids. “Point to a word and ask them to use it in a sentence, share a word that rhymes, say a word that begins with the same sound etc.,” suggests Pepin.
Write Morning Messages
Everyone loves receiving messages of encouragement from those they love, and young kids are no different. Writing a message that everyone can read together at the breakfast table or while getting ready will feel like a special treat. It will also help set a positive tone for the rest of the day.
“Take turns filling in key words and allow them to add to the message!” says Pepin. “Include new vocabulary, concepts, and inquiry. Use pictures or icons in place of difficult words. Write it on your refrigerator with a dry erase marker, a white board, a large poster board, or anything you have available.”
A morning message routine is not only ideal for your child’s emotional wellbeing, but is also a great way to sharpen their literacy skills in a way that young kids love.
“Leave a couple of blanks for your child to fill in the correct words (this is also a great way to practice grammar and phonics!),” says Pepin. “Talk about the weather, activities, and goals for the day. Incorporate ‘what ifs,’ too!”
Create Family Mission Statements
Drafting family mission statements can not only encourage family bonding and lead to a more happy morning routine, but they also give everyone an opportunity to get crafty.
“Write a family mission statement together. You can even cut out the words from magazines, newspapers, etc. the night before, if the time allows, or print it on a poster to hang in the home for everyone to see,” suggests Pepin. “Read the mission statement together every morning. Have your child echo or choral read (in other words, read it aloud together).”
Mission statements are a great way to set goals for the whole family, no matter how big or small. “Talk about a goal of the day and how they are planning to make a difference in the world today,” says Pepin. “Add personal mission statements for older children and post on their bedroom doors.”
Make Up Fun Family Songs
Singing isn’t only a fun activity — it also makes learning and memorizing easier. And the best part is, it can be done anywhere and any time. Songs are stories in a different format, after all.
“Create or designate a song that you want to use as a shared reading experience,” says Pepin. “You can write your own family song using a familiar tune or simply make one up! Designate a favorite song, then print it and display it in your home in your favorite shared reading spaces. Then, sing it together on your way out the door, in the car on the way to school, or anywhere to start your day off on a joyful note.”
When There’s Time, Read Aloud Together
Of course, when your schedule allows, reading your favorite family books aloud together is always beneficial and greatly encouraged. Sharing your love of reading with your child a bit earlier in their childhood and being a reading role model for them will set them up for success in school and beyond.
“If there is time for a shared read-aloud, this is always an essential building block of learning to read and supporting readers of all ages,” says Pepin. “Shared joyful experiences that incorporate early literacy and language skills enable children to learn new words, expand their vocabulary, and better understand the world around them. It makes everyday experiences joyful and deeply human.”
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