Thirty years of research has demonstrated that there is a strong correlation between parental involvement and children’s success at school. In fact, a home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than a family’s income, education level, or cultural background.
Of all academic subjects, research shows that reading is the most sensitive to parental influence. In 1994, the College Board established a positive correlation between reading achievement and parents’ support for their children’s reading efforts. Below is a simple quiz you can take to find out how you are doing in providing a supportive reading environment. Give yourself 5 points on each question if you feel you are doing “excellently” in that area; 4 – “very well”; 3 – “well”; 1 or 2 – “poorly”; and 0 points for “ very poorly.”
1) My child sees me reading something every day.
2) I read aloud to my child every day.
3) My children and I have our own library cards. We make regular trips to the library.
4) Things to read are easy to find in our home.
5) I talk with my child about what I am reading and watching.
6) My child often reads things aloud to me.
How did you score?
30 to 25: Excellent, you are right on track. Talk to your child’s teacher for some new ideas.
20 to 15: Good work, you could ask your child’s teacher for some suggestions that will raise your score or try some suggestions below.
14 to 0: You need to improve. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Read something every day
• Read every day at a regular time.
• Read from a variety of materials like magazines, comic books, and newspapers in addition to books.
• Choose what is interesting to you and your child: sports, comics, or animal stories.
• Talk about what you read.
• Ask your child’s opinion about what he reads.
Have a library card and make regular trips to the library
• Spend quality time with your child at the library.
• Encourage your child to look for many kinds of reading materials.
• Take advantage of story hour, computer usage, family night, summer reading clubs.
• Remember the librarian is there to help you.
• Use your school library as well as the public library to get reading material.
Have reading material in easy-to-access locations in your house
• Turn off the TV and read regularly.
• Share stories at bedtime.
• Share your favorite childhood stories with your child.
• Talk about what you are reading together.
• Have books within easy reach.
Talk to your child about what you are reading or watching on TV
• Ask questions about what you read.
• Talk about new words.
• Play word games like “I Spy.”
Read aloud toand with your child
• Read and reread favorite stories.
• Read with your child all school year long.
• Read with your child in the summertime.
• Take turns reading pages or reading in unison.
In conclusion, the family’s role in children’s reading achievement is undisputed. If you are not doing so already, take your children to the library, help them get a library card and find books on their interests and hobbies, provide a variety of reading material in the home, talk to them about what you are reading and watching on TV, and most importantly read aloud to them every day. It really is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for success in reading.
Elizabeth Hamilton, M.Ed, MA, is a teacher with 23 years of professional experience. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or comments.
7 Ways to Make Reading Fun
Is your little one more interested in eating her board books than listening to your lovely narration? Don’t fret, tasting books is practically a prerequisite for learning to read. But if you’d like to take it beyond this to really engage her in reading, consider these 7 mom-recommended strategies for encouraging a toddler’s interest in books and language.
1. Stick to Short Sessions
Most toddlers simply don’t have the attention span for long stories. To ensure reading doesn’t become a chore for your child, begin with very brief sessions. As Louise G. suggests: “Start with 2 minutes of pointing and teaching words and gradually extend the time to 5 minutes.”
2. Don’t Force Sitting
Does your son want to wiggle and dance while you read? Many moms, including Sandra M., say you should allow toddlers to move and play during story time. “I agree with letting him play while you read. He will probably wander back and forth to see pictures, especially if it’s a book that he likes. Jamie F. concurs: “The goal here is not to finish a book or even make them sit still! It is to expose them to idea of reading.”
3. Touch-Friendly Books
From turning pages to pulling flaps and patting the bunny, toddlers love hands-on reading sessions. As Stacy G. advises: “Find a book that is ‘active’: has buttons to push to make noises, has pictures that ‘pop out,’ or has different textures that your child can feel.” Since toddlers tend to play (and chew) roughly, moms like LadyJane B. suggest investing in sturdy board or cloth books.
4. Verbal Engagement
Asking questions, imitating sounds, narrating in silly voices and reading rhyming stories can also ramp up story time’s fun factor. JuLeah W. recommends posing simple questions to your child: “Ask on each page, ‘Where is the duck?’ or ‘What color is that truck?’…‘Can you find the ball on this page?’ It will be more fun for him if he can play that kind of role.” And Lakisha J. suggests: “Naming the objects, and making the sounds that the object or animal makes, is so much fun, and will help your son to engage in the process of reading.”
5. Visuals Toddlers Love
If you’re having trouble finding a book that really gets your toddler excited, keep in mind that most toddlers love looking at bright colors and animals. As Michelle W. recalls: “I found that books with pictures of animals were big hits with the kids in my class at day care (infant and toddler room).” And as moms like Michelle H. share, most babies love looking at other babies, so books that feature babies’ and children’s faces are often very absorbing.
6. Try Different Times
“Will he let you read while he’s busy doing something else?” asks Sylvia H. ” Or when he’s in the bath? Or at bedtime when he’s almost asleep?” Try reading to your child at various times of day to see when he’s most receptive to listening. As Mary S. suggests: “Don’t limit reading to your children to bedtime. Visit a library and pull out some books, get comfy and read, look at the pictures, etc.”
7. Model Behavior
“Let him see you reading your own books,” recommends Stacey G. “Children love to mimic their parents.” Similarly, Ellie H. suggests enthusiastically reading your children’s books aloud while they’re playing nearby: “I pulled the oldest trick in the book. I played with the books and read them!…Pretty soon, my kids were putting down the other toy and coming over to check things out.”