“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx.
Now that our short, wet summer is drawing to a close, and another school year is off to a roaring start, it’s appropriate to look at the benefits of supporting literacy in both our school-aged and adult populations. As many studies have shown, children who were read to frequently (three to four times a week) were:
• almost twice as likely to recognize all the letters of the alphabet when compared to children who were read to less frequently.
• better at counting to 20, or higher than those who were not (60 per cent vs. 44 per cent).
• more able to write their own names (10 per cent higher).
• better at reading or pretending to read (20 per cent higher).
• more successful in finishing high school and entering a college or university.
• The more types of reading material there are in the home, the better the children were at reading.
• Students who do more reading are not only better readers they also have higher math scores.
• Young readers need to recognize letters and sounds, and the only way to get good is to practice.
• When parents are highly involved with helping their child to read, the children scored 28 points above the national average; where involvement was low, scores were 46 points below the national average. A gap of 74 points.
As a parent you are your child’s first and most important teacher. Here are some suggestions on making learning to read a positive experience:
• Choose a quiet time. Set aside a quiet time with no distractions. Ten to fifteen minutes daily is usually long enough.
• Make reading enjoyable. Sit with your child, show enthusiasm, if your child loses interest, do something else.
• Maintain the flow. If your child mispronounces a word do not interrupt immediately. Instead allow opportunity for self-correction.
• Be positive. If your child says something nearly right to start with that is fine. Don’t say ‘No. That’s wrong,’ instead say ‘Let’s read it together’ and point to the words as you say them. Boost your child’s confidence with constant praise for even the smallest achievement.
• Success is the key. Parents anxious for a child to progress can mistakenly give a child a book that is too difficult. This can have the opposite effect to the one they are wanting. Remember ‘nothing succeeds like success.’ Until your child has built up his or her confidence, it is better to keep to easier books.
• Visit the library. Encourage your child to use the public library regularly, even sign them up for library reading programs.
• Regular practice. Try to read with your child on most school days. ‘Little and often’ is best. Teachers have limited time to help your child with reading.
• Communicate about reading. Your child will most likely have soioo`899]=me readings from school. Discuss these with positive comments. Your child will then know that you are interested in their progress and that you value reading.
• Talk about the books. There is more to being a good reader than just being able to read the words accurately. Just as important is being able to understand what has been read. Always talk to your child about the book; about the pictures, the characters, how they think the story will end, and their favourite part.
• Variety is important. Children need to experience a variety of reading materials such as, picture books, hard backs, comics, magazines, poems, and information books.
• Make it a family affair. If you are rushed for time, having older children read to younger ones helps them both. As General H. Norman Schwarzkopf said: “You cannot help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”
For more information on literacy, or books for your child, drop into the College of New Caledonia Learning Hub in the Goodwin Building, or call Alex or Jamie at 250-996-7078.