If you’re like many Stapleton families I bet reading with the kids is part of the bedtime routine. I have to admit we got pretty far out of this routine in the summer months but school is back and so are the good routines! The kids also have the benefit of some high ranking schools and dedicated teachers who are helping the kids learn to read. (and to love it!)
But what about those kids that don’t have a lot of opportunities to read, or maybe they struggle with reading and they aren’t getting the help they need to overcome some those issues?
I read an article about that very issue this morning and it led me to read a few more. It wasn’t hard to find reasons why reading to children and having them develop a love for reading is so critical, here are just a few:
- Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single most important activity leading to language development. Among other things, reading aloud builds word-sound awareness in children, a potent predictor of reading success.
- Children who fall seriously behind in the growth of critical early reading skills have fewer opportunities to practice reading. Evidence suggests that these lost practice opportunities make it extremely difficult for children who remain poor readers during the first three years of elementary school to ever acquire average levels of reading fluency. They fall behind and often never catch up!
- The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.
- Better communication skills. When you spend time reading to toddlers, they’ll be much more likely to express themselves and relate to others in a healthy way. By witnessing the interactions between the characters in the books you read, as well as the contact with you during story time, your child is gaining valuable communication skills. While you read you can point out behaviors you want to encourage and talk about the negative behaviors you see and how they were harmful to the characters.
- Reading gives kids a chance to slow down and relax. Life is so full and kids are so over-stimulated it’s hard for kids to focus. It will take some time but if you get them in a routine they will learn to love the relaxing, slow pace of a good book. Instead of being seen as a chore or a task, after some time it will become something they love (even if they say they want the ipad instead) If we give in to the easier option for us as adults (again, the ipad) we are hurting their long term success. I know I am guilty of this at times, I feel like I don’t have the stamina to read to them at the end of the day and I cave in and allow them to just watch tv.
- Enhanced concentration and discipline. Along with reading comprehension comes a stronger self-discipline, longer attention span, and better memory retention, all of which will serve your child as they grow.
- Reading with kids makes them want to learn to read on their own. As we know, our kids will imitate us for better or worse. If we read with them they will see how we enjoy it and want to learn how to be better at it themselves.
- Reading skills help kids build self confidence which we know is critical. Self confident kids are less likely to give into peer pressure, less likely to get into trouble and more likely to stay on the right path.
If you are already reading with your kids, and I suspect many of you are, then that is great. If you see the value and you want to help others that aren’t getting that critical reading time then I have a volunteer opportunity for you!
There is a reading program called “Reading Partners” and you could volunteer to go once per week and read with a local elementary child that needs your help. For whatever reason they are behind in their reading skills and you could help them catch up, reducing that learning gap that will only become larger over time if something is not done now.
My friend Biff has been reading at Ashley Elementary (just south of Stapleton, you could be there in minutes) and he has found it very rewarding. He says its very well organized and he gets it done in one hour, including his short commute time. He says the kids really love it and he gets the benefit of giving back and making a difference.
To learn more check out the Reading Partners website. To sign up click on the “Volunteer” tab and it takes less than 30 seconds to get going.
If you do have that one hour to give it could make a huge difference for that child and the trajectory of their life. And my guess is you will get just as much out of it.