Parents: Stop gawping at Love Island and read with your kids

Bob Britnell says parents should spend time reading with their children rather than watching Love Island

So it turns out it was the parents who did it, not the butler…actually it turned out to be the parents who didn’t do it.

And finally we have met a government minister in Damian Hinds, the new education secretary, prepared to say so: children are starting school unable to talk properly, unable to spell simple words, unable to speak in sentences and who don’t know their alphabets.

Let’s not blame the schools for uneducated children: too many have had a poor start in life because of a lack of parental interaction.

Parents should sit down and read to – or with – their children for a few minutes every night and discuss what they are reading.

That is much more important than Love Island or EastEnders or anything else on the box and it’s much more important than anything that might be on their smart phones.

Education secretary Damian Hinds

It’s a regular sight in Canterbury to see young mothers pushing a buggy with one hand while another child clings to the side of it, the mother all the while concentrating on her smart phone.

Why isn’t that mother discussing with the children what they see around them, what they’ve done at school or playschool or what they can do together when they get home?

Fundamentally, these are examples of neglect and not confined to any one sector of society, so widespread is this.

Those neglected children are going to grow up less articulate, less knowledgeable, less educated and with poorer life chances.

Statistics recently showed that the damage done at that young age lasts a lifetime.

So if you’re one of those parents, put your phone down, go to the library in the High Street, find a book and sit down and read it with your offspring.

When you’ve done that, discuss it with them and then go back to the library and do it all again and keep doing it until your children are old enough to go to the library unaccompanied.


  1. I don’t always agree with Bob but he is absolutely right on this one! Someone who knows a local primary school, tells me that the reception class had such poor language skills that the children had to be given a card to hold up when necessary, saying “Please may I go to the toilet” because they had insufficient words even for that.

    Children can be demanding and difficult but are normally at their most entertaining and charming in conversation…..getting words right…and wrong…laughing together at strange meanings and sounds….singing songs and fooling around with the tune or the words so they say “that’s not right” all can be fun and helps. Getting kids to spot “mistakes” and tell you off is a great way of listening and learning.

    It’s not just conventional book reading but reading the world around you…shop signs,road signs,tee shirts, adverts…calling it literacy, as schools do, can be a bit of a barrier…its just making contact.

    Children and adults using lap tops too much does not help…but look up stuff on line with them to show them how to learn.

    As Bob says, a poor start in language skills may never be remedied no matter how good the school.


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