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Why Can’t I Skip My Twenty Minutes of Reading Tonight?

Posted on February 25th, 2016

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If this is true, how many words is a pictograph worth?  I did have the idea to use the embedded pictograph in this article with no words. The pictograph makes a powerful statement without needing much additional support.

That being said, I do want to highlight a few thoughts, reflecting on my many years as a teacher, administrator, and parent.  The most important point I want to make is this, students who read a lot tend to be successful in school and in life. As educators, one of our main goals in the Lower School is to help students acquire the skills to read and then provide opportunities for them to grow as readers.  In order for our students to be successful, we need a strong home/school partnership.  While we certainly provide reading opportunities for our students in the classroom, we also need students to be reading at home. Furthermore, when children observe their parents reading, it sends a strong message.  Reading at home can be an enjoyable activity for the whole family and provide quality together time.

As a first grade teacher, I often shared with parents that learning to read is not rocket science.  For most students the foundation to reading is laid in kindergarten and first grade.  Once children have the basic reading skills, they need to practice. How do you get better at playing basketball? You play basketball.  How do you get better at riding a bike? You ride the bike.  How do you get better at reading? You read books.

I understand there are challenges.  My oldest daughter loved to read from a very young age and was reading independently by the time she was six.  She got hooked on books and needed very little parent support or encouragement.

Our younger daughter learned to read but was reluctant to read for pleasure. Truth be told, she was much like her father. She was a busy child, who would rather be playing, talking, or doing something.  (A comment written on my third grade report card went something like,  “Tommy is a very active child.”)  I give most of the credit to my wife for helping our younger daughter learn to enjoy reading.  My wife was patient, established a routine of reading each evening for thirty minutes and sometimes included incentives, such as popcorn!  She found a quiet and comfortable place to read, and provided a number of high-interest books that were at our daughter’s reading level.  Over time, our daughter grew as an independent reader and chose reading as a pastime.

It helped when the Harry Potter series came out.  The Harry Potter books brought the whole family together and provided opportunities for some fun and interesting  conversations.  Finding a just-right series, a certain author, or focusing on children’s interests can help connect them to a love of reading.  As our daughters grew up, I became more of a reader, and reading became a shared interest and activity for our whole family. I guess you are never too old to change.

You’ll probably see this pictograph again, just before we go into our summer vacation. If you look closely, the information on the pictograph is based on a school year of 180 days.  It does not reflect reading during the summer.  A sad reality of summer is that often students lose some of the gains made during the school year because they do not read for an extended period of time.  Reading consistently during the school year and throughout the summer will provide the best opportunity for the success of each child.  We all want the best for our children. We want them to be avid readers who enjoy reading. Let’s work together to connect our kids to books.  Kids who read a lot tend to be successful in school and in life. Read on!

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