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Ready for School: Reading with Kids

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Ideas to Help Your Child Be Ready for School

In my house, we love school holidays. Summer holidays mean sleep-ins, catch-ups and down-time, long lunches and late nights. It’s fun, and restful and a nice break from running around between school, kinder, sports and play-dates.

Although it is tempting to just sit and play for the month of January, I also try and use the holidays to regroup, to spend a little time on the things we might neglect when we’re busy during the year. I sort clothes, clean cupboards and try and spend a little time getting the kids ready for the year to come.

My youngest is starting school next year, and I’m keen to get him in the right head-space for the classroom. I suspect that this will be important, as he’s a pretty typical boy and likes to spend most of his time moving… running, jumping, fighting invisible foes. Sitting down and writing, drawing and reading comes a poor second to these more active endeavours. I fear he’s going to get quite a shock when it’s insisted upon that he sit for more than five minutes at a time.

As such, I’ve come up with five ‘projects’ that I’m going to undertake with Oscar, to engage him a little more with reading and writing. He loves books, and so that’s where I’ll start, with lots of reading. Then I’ll extend this interest with five activities that will hopefully be fun, colourful and playful. Here’s the plan…

reading 1Project 1: We’re going to build bookshelves. Capitalising on Oscar’s love of activity, he and I are going to build, paint and install some forward-facing bookshelves in his room. I’ve bought some Ikea spice racks, and we’ll assemble them together. He’ll be able to choose the colours that he’d like to paint them and then I’ll pop them on the wall. As the final step, I’ll ask him to choose which books to put on each shelf – I’m thinking that I’ll ask him to pick in themes – his favourite books, books about animals, books about colours etc.

reading 2Project 2: We’ve started ‘Oscar’s Journal’. Using a scrapbook, we’re making a little time each day to sit down and choose one little thing to write about… something that he wants to remember about the day. At the moment, I’m doing the writing but I’m doing it slowly, in plain print and asking him to watch and ‘help’ as I write. As time goes on, I’ll have him write a little more for himself.

The final step each day is to have Oscar draw a picture. This is particularly important, as he’s a really reluctant artist, and I’m very keen for him to develop a little more patience with drawing. It’s lovely to watch him discover his abilities. As the month goes on, we’ll practice our reading too by going back and reading what we’ve written about on previous days.

Project 3: We’re going to give ABC Reading Eggs flashcards a go. I’ve never been a big one for flashcards, but ABC Reading Eggs really seems to work a treat with kids. Oscar absolutely loved their online games, and they’ve really helped in the past, particularly with his speech development when he was a little difficult to understand. The alphabet flashcards help kids identify letter shapes, hear letter sounds, match pictures to words to sounds, alphabetical order and to read and spell simple words. I wont push this project too much, I’ll let Oscar makes the decisions regarding how much is enough when playing the card games.

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Project 4: Not so much a project as a bit of screen time, we’ve been watching the animated movie version of Oliver Jeffer’s Lost and Found. This gorgeous picture book was already a family favourite, but now the video (narrated by Jim Broadbent) is a favourite too. Oscar was very excited to receive the DVD from Santa at Christmas time, and it’s going to afford some really great opportunities to watch and read, and chat about the story.

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Project 5: Lastly, we’re going to practice our fine motor skills. Oscar loves the ipad, and so he’s become very accustomed to using his finger-tip (and not a pencil) to move things around, to draw and even to write. His pencil grip is still a little weak, and so I earlier in the year I made a game (that I saw on Pinterest) with the aim of strengthening his grip on the pen. I’m going to have the game around for Oscar to practice and play with, and I might even put together another couple of activity cards.

Of course, as well as these ‘project’, we’re going to read books. Lots of books. Each day, I’ll be sure to ask Oscar to choose a couple of books to read, and we’ll spend time chatting about them together. I’ll quietly quiz him on letters, sounds, characters and story, while we snuggle and enjoy some really precious Mum and Oscar time. He’ll never suspect he’s learning!

Do your kids love to read and write? Did you have to encourage them? Do you have any suggestions of ways to help kids get ready for school?

Happy holidaying!
Mandi is the editor of the bookish blog That Book You Like… You can visit the blog here, or the TBYL website at



Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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