Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More On Teaching Reading

I once read about a study (wish I'd kept the reference) where scientists tried to determine what method of reading instruction worked best. They interviewed top-performing students from the most respected universities in America and, to their surprise, discovered the methods of teaching reading made no difference at all. The students had been taught by many different methods and still did well.
However there was one thing they all had in common. When they were little kids their parents had read to them a lot.
The single most important thing parents can do to help their children become good readers is to spend at least 20 minutes every day reading to them, starting when the kids are tiny tots. It helps to point to each word as it's spoken, but that isn't nearly as important as sharing the experience of the stories and books.
Of course there's no rule saying reading time must be exactly twenty minutes long. If there's only time to squeeze in ten minutes on some days, that's better than nothing. And if children keep begging for more and story time goes on for 40 minutes without conflicting with things like bedtime, that's fine, too. But parents should read to their kids every day until the children are able to read by themselves and no longer interested in being read to.
Some kids who read fluently still enjoy hearing their parents read to them and may like reading out loud to their parents.
And reading to kids should start as early as possible. Although they can't understand the words, most infants enjoy being held and hearing their parents' voices read out loud to them for a few minutes every day.
Even kids with learning disabilities may do better than they would have otherwise if they were read to by their parents when they were young.
Of course it also helps develop reading skills if teachers, older siblings, and child-care providers read to young children, but the parent-child bond is strengthened by sharing that special time and that emotional aspect helps motivate kids to learn to read.


Nancy Stewart said...

So true. Reading to one's children is such a special, intimate time. A time we all remember the rest of our lives.

Thank you, Jan, for this warm post.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks for the comment, Nancy.