On Friday, December 23rd, 2016, our Community Development (“Comdev”) programme held a seminar with the theme “Boosting Reading Interest in Children”. It took place at Titian’s Community Learning Centre (“CLC”) in Bayat. The idea behind this seminar is based on our observation that school-age children who frequently visit CLC, are more interested in playing with their smart phone than reading books. Furthermore, the style of language spoken by primary school-age children are not appropriate for their age. After further probing, it turned out that the children absorbed these age-inappropriate vocabularies from telenovelas shown on television. This situation can reduce the effectiveness of the various initiatives made by Titian CLC in improving the quality of life through education.
Dwi Budiyanto, Lecturer from the Faculty of Language and Art, State University of Yogyakarta, served as our speaker for this seminar. Pak Budi – as he is known – explained that the issue raised by Titian is strongly correlated with the role of parents as role models for their children. Parents’ parenting style has a profound influence on their children’s behavior. Parents are expected to be able to foster thinking capabilities in their children. Non-educational television shows should not replace parents’ role in character building, upbringing or instilling good habits in their children. Likewise, the ease of data access through smart phones is all the more reason for parents to provide guidance and avoid their children getting inappropriate information from the virtual world. As such, it calls for creativity from both parents and teachers to come up with ways to distract children from television and smart phones and encourage them to read books instead.
Pak Budi further explained that loving to read is different from an ability to read. “You must be a parent or teacher who loves to read before you can stimulate the child to love to read”, he said. An ability to read is the result of a learning process and can be trained gradually in children. Reading stories to the child can be initial step to encourage a reading habit. More importantly, build up their curiosity and get their involvement in the reading process by asking questions; about their thoughts on the storyline or how the story might end. In this way, parents and teachers can make better use of the time they spend with the children.
Titian CLC in Bayat will add a special programme in 2017. This will involve mentoring parents and children to improve their interest in reading via a Children’s Reading Club, or to groups of parents when they visit the CLC with their children. (FD)