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Reading Takes a Backseat to TV and Computer

Homeschooling Expert Advice from Isabel Shaw

Q: I am always after my son to read books; he is always in front of the TV or computer. I explain to him the benefit of reading. He agrees with me, but never tries to change. I'm very concerned.

A: A few years ago, our television stopped working. My husband, convinced he could fix it, labored every night trying new parts. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. At first, we were all very edgy and could not imagine our lives without television. As the months went by, I noticed a change in our routine. We all talked to each other a lot more. We read books together and started to play board games. My older daughter, then seven, began to read. A lot!

Weekly trips to the library became part of our routine. Sometimes we would just look in the "topics" section and take home whatever books looked good. Some books had great photos, beautiful artwork, or interesting facts about a subject we didn't know about. Suddenly, we didn't miss the TV anymore. In fact, when we got a new one (almost a year later), I was reluctant. We now watch very little, while the habit of reading good books has lasted.

Suggesting to your son that "reading is good" just isn't enough. Does he have high-quality, age-appropriate books by well-known authors? Are his books about subjects he finds interesting? Do you read aloud to him regularly? Does he see you reading books either for pleasure or knowledge? Do you spend a lot of time watching TV? Your answers to these questions will determine how your son's reading habits develop.

Lastly, don't be afraid to turn off the TV! Limit time on the computer to half an hour. Get him his own library card, and go there with him regularly. Help him choose good books, or ask the librarian for help. Read a book that has been made into a movie, then rent the video. Discuss how they differ. (The book is always better!) Get him a subscription to a good magazine -- the library has lots of samples of kids magazines. Don't force the reading issue or he will rebel. Start slowly, then gradually make changes. He'll thank you later!

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Isabel Shaw is a freelance writer and homeschooling mom of 15 years. She and her husband Ray homeschool their two daughters, Jessica and Amanda. Besides being a contributor to FamilyEducation.com, Shaw has written for Home Education Magazine, The Link, Homeschooling Horizons Magazine, The Homeschool Gazette, and other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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