March 21, 2012

Book Training ~ Reader Mail Part 6

Reader, Tania at In the Dovecote sent the following question.  Because of it is a long and involved reply I have divided it into a seven part series of posts.

On an unrelated note... how/when do you start training your children? I'm asking because, today I was reading to Bella and she wanted to eat the book (from the library) I said 'no' and held it out of her grasp, and she started to fuss a bit. Now, I don't know if she was fussing because of that or b/c she was tired (it was almost nap time). We want to be firm and train our children right from the start, but on the other hand I don't want to go overboard and be super strict and harsh. 

Eg. the other week we were at the corner store and a mother comes in with her little boy, about 3. She says 'We are just returning the movie and leaving.' He runs over to the candy and starts to say he wants some. She says 'No, come here.' He doesn't obey. Mom stands at the door for a while waiting. Boy starts to whine. Mom walks over to him and says 'no you can't have candy. Let's go.' Boy picks up a candy and runs to the door, saying he wants it. Mom says no, he starts on a temper tantrum. Mom says she is not going to get out her wallet just to pay for a 5 cent candy. Kid continues to whine. She says 'Do you really want me to take out my wallet just to pay for that candy.' He says yes. Finally mom gives a big sigh, hands the cashier .5 as she says 'He just HAS to have that candy!' and the child walks out all happy he got his way. 

My thoughts: Mother should have gone over to the the boy and taken him out of the store the moment he ran over to the candy. Even IF he had a temper tantrum. But my idea is that if he had been trained correctly in the first place, he wouldn't have bothered trying to have a 'temper tantrum'. What do you think? Sorry if you've already written a post about this, please just direct me to it. Thanks :o) 



Now, in specifically dealing with book training.  Reading time is so good for your child and should be part of your daily routine from birth.  Aside from the obvious skill development associated with reading, listening and language skills there is also the benefit of learning the topic at hand.  But reading time is so much more!

In this time your child learns to sit quietly.  Any mama who has toted a child out of worship every Sunday until they are four will understand the benefit here.  Aside from the joy of being able to worship all together as a family, there is the blessing of being able to attend any public function where a child must sit quietly.  We have never thought twice about taking our children to concerts, museums, educational lectures, theaters, religious services, and the list goes on and on.  Because we know they will sit appropriately and quietly for the duration.  Each time we do, instead of receiving hateful stares from fellow attendees, we are complimented on how well our children sit and pay attention to the topic at hand.  This skill is also a blessing when taking long trips.  Which our family does frequently.

Allen and I had a good laugh at the expense of another couple several years ago.  As we were waiting to be seated we watched another couple be escorted to their table.  Next, the hostess came and seated our family.  We had six children at the time.  No sooner were we seated when the couple flagged down the hostess.  I noticed the wife gesturing to our table and then they were moved to another table across the restaurant.  I understood clearly that this couple feared our children would be a disturbance to their meal.  A few  minutes later another couple with just one child was escorted in and seated at a table beside the older couple.  Well, junior was a brat.  Plain and simple.  He was an annoyance to us all the way across the room.  Screaming, spilling things, up and down and running around.  Eventually, mother was out in the lobby with the child while father ate and then they switched.  Personally, I would have stayed home.  Regardless, Allen and I commented on how amusing it was that this older couple thought our large family would disrupt their quiet evening when in fact they would have had a more peaceful time if they had stayed where they were.  Before leaving the older couple stopped by our table to comment on how they had been observing our family and how shocked they were at the good behavior and quiet manners of our children.  There is a good lesson to be learned here, one ill behaved child can be wreak more havoc than six well trained children.  

So, for one thing, reading time is a great exercise in practice for sitting quietly.  Also, it is a good time to practice no touch.  As you noted, Dove, Baby should not touch books until she is able to handle them properly.  That means moving beyond the habit of putting everything in her mouth.  Carmella is still teething and still prefers to chew on things.  She is not permitted to handle a book.  She is allowed to tap and feel the pages as I read to her, which she very much enjoys.  She is not permitted to grab at the pages or yank on the book.  Again, a gentle thump on the offending hand is a great way to train in this and will be very effective to keep mama and baby content and story time a pleasant part of every day.

For book training, I recommend using the nice chunky board books which are sturdier than your typical volume.  Once baby is beyond chewing on books, she can learn to hold a book and turn pages with board books.  And once, she has demonstrated gentleness with a board book, I recommend practicing for real books by using catalogs or magazines.  Accidents will happen, you don't want it to be with a library book or a family heirloom.  What we are watching for here is baby  demonstrating a willingness to be respectful and careful with books.  This will later transfer to delicate treatment of any property, be it baby's, Mama's or a book checked out of the public library.

In addition to story time, we also have family Bible reading time each morning.   I already touched a bit on practice sitting quietly so I will just mention this briefly.  Family Bible time is an excellent time to practice church.  Our children are required to sit with their Bibles on their laps and follow along during the reading.  Those who can read, take turns reading aloud.  This is a very good way improve reading skills for those beginning readers.  Those who can't read yet are still required to bring their Bible to Family Bible Time.  Before they are able to read, someone else helps them turn to the proper pages for each part of the days' reading.  Often before they can fully follow along in the reading they can find the books and chapters for each section.  This, again, is helpful in learning to read, but it also shows an importance to God's word and the necessity of being respectful to the book of God.  Our children are really encouraged when they can find the passages on their own.  If the children can not follow along they are to sit with their hands folded on top of their Bibles on their laps.  This is a reminder to them to respect the word of God and reading time by not squirming, not speaking, and not playing around.  In church, if a child is being disruptive, I simply put a Bible or hymn book on their lap and they know it means to fold those hands and sit up quietly.  If a child needs to be dealt with during a church service, it is a reminder to us we need to be more attentive to training during family Bible reading.  It is always our goal to have our family sit together and worship together for the entire service and it is our prayer these practice times make their presence less of a distraction to those around us.


  1. Your point about one ill-behaved child is so important! I also feel like we enjoy our daughter so much more when she is pleasantly behaving, because we have followed through in training her. :-)

  2. Your story about the one ill-behaved child is so true! It's not about the number of children there are, but how well they are trained! And I like the suggestion of practicing with a magazine etc. before a real book.