Erin Sullivan, East Grand Forks, column: A teacher’s guide to raising good readersFamilies need to be involved in the literacy process; and in a joint effort, parents and teachers can help students succeed. Together, we are better.
By: Erin Sullivan,
By Erin Sullivan
EAST GRAND FORKS — “Do I have to read?” Certainly, children find other things more attractive, and possibly feel reading is an assignment rather than an experience.
But reading is a skill one needs. No matter what career path students choose, reading will benefit them.
And not surprisingly, the amount of time a child spends reading is directly related to reading achievement. Time spent reading at home is one of the greatest factors related to the growth of a reader.
But as our lives get busier, the amount of reading that takes place at home continues to decrease. A recent study found that on average, fifth grade students are spending only 17 minutes a day reading voluntarily outside of school.
So, what can be done? In order to support children’s literacy development, we all need to be involved. Parents and guardians are children’s first teachers and play a vital role in helping their child value reading. Factors that affect literacy development include strategies families can implement at home.
The best way to improve is to practice. The more reading that occurs, the stronger the child becomes. Families need to set aside time each day for reading, time free of other distractions. As children adapt to this routine, it will simply become a part of what they do. Establishing a set time creates routine and provides consistency in a child’s time well spent.
Exposure to a variety of print is important and provides an interesting read. Children need to see that reading is not only incorporated into the school day, but also involved in every part of their lives.
Through a wide range of content in a variety of contexts, students make a connection between school and home. When children are exposed to print such as recipes, computer articles, magazines and newspapers, they begin to understand the importance of reading, and they apply it to their everyday lives.
Reading materials need to be available. Libraries are filled with reading materials, allowing children to find high interest books at little to no cost. Making this a positive experience sets the stage for future visits.
Schools are filled with books at different levels and on varying topics. Teachers have many books in their classroom libraries available for checkout purposes. Book orders are often sent home and are filled with age-appropriate books that range in price.
Having a variety of reading material available is essential in seeing that reading is taking place.
Taking time to read out loud to children is important. They are never too old for this! Taking turns reading is also important, as children need to read out loud. Children reading to others is another way to vary the reading experience.
And parents’ attitudes toward reading directly affect a student’s feelings. Tell your child why reading is important. Show that reading is fun by letting them to see you read material associated with reading for enjoyment.
When students come from homes where reading for pleasure it modeled, there is a greater chance the child will choose to do so.
Talk to your child’s teacher in order to bridge the gap between school and home. Children need to see this cooperative effort as adults play a key role in children’s academic success. Home and school together have the best interest of the child in mind. Therefore, open communication needs to occur.
Play an active role in your child’s education by valuing and acknowledging the importance of reading. The reading habit a student develops early remains with them for the rest of their life.
Families need to be involved in the literacy process; and in a joint effort, parents and teachers can help students succeed. Together, we are better.
Sullivan is a fifth-grade teacher at South Point Elementary School in East Grand Forks.