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A Kid Couch is for More Than Reclining

Dec 16, 2007
I remember my mom and dad enjoying books. My mom would lie on the couch and enjoy a good novel. My dad read magazines in his favorite rocking chair. Each of them had a place where they liked to read. Today, I have a place where I like to do the same. I found this place because I watched my parents enjoying a good book in their favorite spot. I learned from their example.

Things have changed since I was a kid. Today, adults waste too much time on the couch. Many of us who have kids really have a way of setting a bad example. We tell our children to find something constructive to do. We suggest that television rots their brains and physical activity is good for you. Then, we lie on the couch and watch T.V. It's terrible modeling.

The good news is that it's never too late to set a new example. Don't cringe. I'm not going to suggest that you turn off the T.V. and throw the couch out with the trash. I am going to suggest that you give recreation a broader definition for your children. Recreation is more than lying on the couch and connecting with the tube. Prove this to your children. They'll do as you do, so they'll be responsive to your new uses for the couch.

My children see me enjoy a lot of things. Television is just one of them. I'm an exercise enthusiast. I enjoy art and music. My church is a big part of my extracurricular activity. Making art is a favorite pass time. Reading is also right in the running. Every night I have a choice to make. Before I go to bed I can do something. Usually, my most popular bedtime routine involves a good book.

Sometimes I read off on my own. Other times, I let my kids see me wrapping up a good novel. I sit on the couch in the living room and read furiously. My kids try to interrupt, but I tell them they'll have to try again in 20 minutes. "Find something to do while you're waiting," I say. "I'm finishing up a really good chapter." It's a habit I'm really proud of. I think it's healthy for my kids to see me enjoying reading. If you try reading in front of your children, the results might surprise you.

When I perused my master's degree, I studied reading education. I learned a lot about the ways to get kids interested in books. I learned that some of the things my parents taught me promoted a habit of reading. I also learned that that there are some ways I can improve on what my parents did. I'd like to share these improvements, because I believe they will help promote good reading habits for children.

The first thing I learned is the high value of modeling. Kids will do what you do. It really does make a difference when you read a book on the couch instead of watching a T.V. show. My kids love to read. It's no mistake. I showed them that a good book can compete with their favorite television show. Like me, some nights they choose the tube. Other nights, books win out! Let your kids see you read. It makes a world of difference.

The second thing I learned is the importance of reading with children. When a child sits next to their parent to share stories it's pleasurable for them. As the child grows they have positive associations with books. They remember being cuddled, read to and encouraged along side a book. That's why they read: to bring back those good memories. Read with the children you love. They'll love books because of you.

I also learned that where a child reads does matter. This makes sense since adults care about where they read too. Some of us recline while others like reading at the kitchen table. Kids seem to prefer the more cozy settings: on a comfy chair, in bed or on the couch. You want to make these settings available as good places to read. In my home we have book baskets. There are baskets of books next to my children's beds, their favorite chairs and by the couch in the living room. Make books, and a good place to read them, readily available for children. You'll be surprised by how quick they are to check them out!

My last piece of advice has been kid tested in my own home. My children have furniture that's just for them and they use it. Kid sized furniture is a big hit for young readers. They love having a chair, desk, table or a kid couch that's just for them. Today you can get a chair or a couch that's just the right size for your child. When your children see you reading a good book, on your adult sized couch, they're likely to follow suit. Put a couch, just for them, right next to yours and watch the reading begin! This time you'll be really glad you stayed on the couch!
About the Author
Alisa E. Clark, an educator for over 10 years with a Master's Degree in Reading Education, reviews and consults with companies and schools districts about the latest tools and programs to enhance student learning. Her web site is at http://www.kidcubby.com .
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