Helping Teens Find Time to Read

Helping Teens Find Time to Read

In a perfect universe, students would have an infinite amount of time to read and dissect, and read and dissect, and read and dissect some more. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect universe.

No matter whether you're teaching middle or high school students, you're undoubtedly aware of just how busy they can get, with the endless slew of extracurriculars and possibly even part-time jobs and family obligations.

It's no surprise, then, that sometimes reading Chapter 12 of Jane Eyre might not be so high on their priority list. Here are some tips to help students find time for fun and productive reading within their busy schedules:

1. A good reader knows when to stop.

The impetus to keep going can sometimes be very strong even if our eyes are closing shut in defiance. The first step to finding time for productive reading is doing away with the times when it's unproductive. For example, if a student is convinced that they absolutely must finish this chapter of Huckleberry Finn before going to bed because you, their meticulous English teacher, might be unpleased otherwise, but it is almost midnight, and they have to be awake in six hours - now might be the time to tell them that the reading can wait. Be sure to remind students that exhausted reading never gets them anywhere - it only hinders the ability to comprehend the text in front of them.

2. Plan it out.

Things can get chaotic when we're young - sometimes we feel like we're floundering all over the place, which adds to the uncertainty that we'll never have adequate time for anything. Students might not like to hear this, but the most tried-and-true method to get good reading time is to schedule it. No, students do not have to go so far as adding "reading time" to their g-cal. Still, teachers can help students by teaching them time-management skills. If students set aside a certain amount of time each day (within the same time frame, if possible, in a place that they are comfortable, and free from unnecessary distractions) can truly work wonders for their reading game. Not only this, but abiding by a specific schedule or routine will relieve students' great deal of anxiety.

3. Turn the page, then turn in.

Taking a shower, brushing teeth, and reading for half an hour each night might be a great routine to encourage students to follow. For students who feel like they hardly have time to breathe during the day, implementing a reading period as part of their nightly routine will likely prove for them to be a worry-free and relaxing endeavor. Plus, it might also help students who have a difficult time falling asleep at night. As a result, they will much more easily retain vital information from their relevant texts. Students should still be wary of their limitations, though, as mentioned earlier, and not push themselves to read at the end of a particularly tiring day when one might need to go the extra mile with half the energy.

4. During those dull moments….

In every busy day, there are still always at least a handful of dull or empty moments. Perhaps, when students are waiting for the late bus to whirl its way around the corner, or those several moments they spend scrolling through social media after flopping down on their beds. Of course, quiet moments like these are necessary for students' and our own sanity. So, advise students to recognize those moments of transition or idleness and maybe get something, no matter how small, out of them. If students have an extra ten minutes of nothing before a meeting or practice, perhaps they can accomplish a small task during that time. Sometimes having read three pages on the bus can really put us ahead of schedule.

5. And, in case of emergency…

If a student is absolutely positive that they will not have time to read a chapter in full, there are still ways to make do with what they've got, and join the class with confidence and ease. For so many of our students, this might be a reality, and as teachers, we should be understanding of our students' time outside of our classrooms. We should encourage students in these situations to highlight, or make special note of, the first and last sentences of every significant paragraph of the relative chapter, and to, if possible, skim any dialogue present. Often, this will be the body of what they're after, even if they have to go back and savor the details for next time. We've all been there!

With all these tips in mind, the most important thing for students to remember is that rushed or anxious reading never did anyone good. In fact, it is probably counterproductive. Always remain flexible with the rigorous demands of students' busy schedules and lives - in the long run, it'll pay off for you and them alike!

Helping Teens Find Time to Read

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