You could be putting your child off reading – here’s how to change that



shutterstock

Isang Awah, University of Cambridge

Not every child is a bookworm, but research shows that developing a love of reading early in life can provide many benefits. From a positive impact on academic achievement, increased general knowledge, vocabulary growth, improved writing ability, and helping children to develop empathy, it’s clear reading can play an important role in a child’s development.

It has also been argued that on top of providing pleasure, reading literature helps children to cultivate an imagination. And an overview of several studies on reading for pleasure suggests that it may also be a way to combat social exclusion and raise educational standards.

But despite the huge benefits that reading offers, evidence suggests that young people are reading less and that many children fall behind in reading from about the age of 10.

Some teachers believe that parents should be more active in supporting their child’s reading. This is understandable as studies on successful literacy achievement often feature either support from a parent or a teacher – indicating how both can help children to develop a love for reading.

But while it’s important that parents and teachers become actively involved in helping children to read more, my research reveals there are some things parents and teachers may do that actually put children off reading.

Let them choose their own books

In my research with children between the ages of nine and 12, I explored the extent to which they read for pleasure and the different factors that affected their reading engagement.

Things such as parents or teachers selecting the books the children read in their leisure time, or parents not allowing the children to read their preferred books were shown to have a negative impact on children’s reading engagement. As were parents or teachers forcing children to read and parents insisting that children read books to the end.

Children enjoy reading more when they’ve chosen their own books.
Shutterstock

Some of the children in my study complained that their parents always selected the books they read in their leisure time and that the parents’ selections were not always books that the children liked. A little boy described the books his father selected for him to read at home as “hard books” and could only recall one occasion when he had enjoyed reading the book his father selected.

There were also complaints by other children that their teachers selected the books they read during the reading period at school, and that usually, they did not like the books and often did not read them.

Don’t force it

Some children also complained that their parents did not allow them to read the books they had an interest in. For instance, one boy said that he liked Enid Blyton books, but his father did not allow him to read these. A girl complained that her father stopped her from reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid books because “they don’t teach anything”.

A few children complained of either being forced to read when they would rather not read, or being forced to complete a book they had lost interest in.

So, as important as reading is for a child’s development, my research shows why children must be allowed to exercise their right to not read or stop reading at anytime – as to do otherwise is likely to put them off reading altogether.

Make it fun

From my interviews with the children, I also discovered that it was common practice for teachers and parents to ask children questions about the books they read and that reading aloud done by teachers at school was usually accompanied by questions. While this might seem like a useful learning technique, it’s not one that goes down well with the kids.

All the children I spoke with said they did not like being asked questions after reading – and that it took away the fun from reading. One boy said that knowing he would be asked questions about the reading “kind of makes me feel like they’re going to give us an exam or a test afterwards”.

Don’t force it, reading should feel fun for kids.
Shutterstock

As the findings from my study show, when it comes to books, it’s important to respect your child’s preferences – even if they do not meet your expectations. Indeed, there is evidence to show that children best enjoy reading books they self-select – and doing otherwise may reduce the potential for pleasurable engagement in reading.

So given this, both parents and teachers would do well to remember that sometimes children just want to curl up with a good book, of their choice, and simply enjoy the process of reading for what it is.The Conversation

Isang Awah, PhD Candidate in Education, University of Cambridge

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Advertisements

Schools can’t tackle child literacy levels alone – it takes a village



File 20180110 46709 ypjxix.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
More than half of children under two and nearly half of children aged three to five are not being read to every day at home.
Shutterstock

Catherine Wade, Parenting Research Centre

The recently released NAPLAN 2017 results and findings from the latest Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) have got Australia talking again about how our children are faring when it comes to literacy.


Read more: NAPLAN 2017: results have largely flat-lined, and patterns of inequality continue


We know from PIRLS, while most Australian children are meeting international benchmarks for reading at year 4, nearly one in five are not meeting these benchmarks. Australia has one of the largest proportions of students who fall below the “intermediate” benchmark into the “low” or “below low” categories, compared to other English-speaking countries, including the US, Canada, and England.

Despite the range of steps that have been taken to address literacy levels across Australia, a large proportion of children are still not meeting international standards for reading. So what other approaches could we try?

Parents: an untapped resource

New research from the Parenting Research Centre highlights an area ripe for intervention: better supporting parents in reading to their children.

Our findings from a study of 2,600 parents showed more than half of children under two and nearly half of children aged three to five are not being read to every day.


https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ciPKO/1/


We found, while most children were being read to by an adult in the household four to five days a week, a concerning proportion were not being read to at all or very infrequently. Specifically, 13% of 0–2-year-olds and 4% of 3–5-year-olds were not read to at all by an adult at home in the previous week.

Our research also looked at how important parents’ educational values and aspirations for their children were and how they felt about their interactions with their children’s educators. The survey has national relevance, as most of the findings relate to broader parenting issues.

Why early reading is vital

We know from decades of international research that what parents do at home with their children has a profound effect on children’s learning outcomes. Children who experience enriched, cognitively stimulating home environments are at an advantage in the learning process because they have had exposure to many more words.

The evidence in support of providing a language-rich environment to children is vast. Children with language delays at school entry are at greater risk for academic difficulties. With flow-on effects to later academic and socio-emotional challenges, the imperative to tackle language and literacy problems early is paramount.

Sitting together, opening a book, and reading and pointing to words can be incredibly helpful in building the foundations of good literacy.
Shutterstock

A number of high-quality reviews of the scientific literature show good evidence for the benefits of parental shared reading for children’s literacy.

And while older children typically need less input from parents when it comes to actually looking at words on the page, that doesn’t mean the parents’ role in supporting reading diminishes. Creating a home environment that encourages time and space for books is key.


Read more: Research shows the importance of parents reading with children – even after children can read


If we know reading works, why don’t we do it?

The message that simply sitting together, opening a book, and reading and pointing to words can be incredibly helpful in building the foundations of good literacy has certainly cut through with many parents of young children.

But there are many reasons parents don’t read at home. As we know from sectors such as health, simply telling people what needs to be done – such as exercising more – does not take their personal context into consideration. Alone, it’s not enough to motivate people to adopt new patterns of behaviour.

Considering how best to support parents to read more often to their children is an important question and will depend on a thorough understanding of the barriers that are preventing them from doing so. Family and work pressures and parental confidence around reading books are some possible factors that could be further explored as barriers.

A shared concern

Children’s literacy is not the sole responsibility of parents, but it’s clearly an area where parents and schools can work together. This parent-educator partnership featured in our survey, which explored parents’ views about their interactions with kindergarten, child care and school teachers.


https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/1bDZe/3/


Most parents (92%) felt comfortable communicating with their children’s teachers. Although 21% did not think or were unsure if their child’s teacher understood their child.


https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/rK1uG/2/


Also, 20% did not agree they were able to participate in decisions that affected their child at kinder or school.

Of note, fathers tended to feel less comfortable talking with their child’s teachers than mothers did.

While 82% of parents felt their opinions were valued in discussions with their child’s educators, 11% had mixed feelings about this and 7% felt their opinions weren’t valued.


https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/ILYt4/1/


Given what we know from research about the value of parents being connected with their children’s educational settings, it follows that parent-teacher partnerships are important for children’s educational outcomes.

Consequently, it’s important issues like literacy are looked at holistically. Literacy is not just as an education system issue, and not just a parenting issue. It’s a societal issue.

Parents are ready to engage

We found the vast majority of parents (93%) see their own contribution to their children’s learning in the early years as important. This supports the view that today’s parents are generally well placed for taking on information about how to improve their children’s literacy and educational outcomes.

It’s encouraging that most children are being read to at home – even if not every day. But in the context of concerns about Australia’s position in international literacy rankings there’s more to be done.

The ConversationThe message to parents is clearly “read early and read often”. The message for policy makers and professionals is “support parents to better engage with their children’s learning”. This could take many forms and is dependent on context. It could include strategies such as building literacy messages and materials into existing parenting support services and promoting online resources for parents, given our survey found 79% of parents look for answers online about parenting issues.

Catherine Wade, Principal Research Specialist, Parenting Research Centre

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Article: Books Over Games


The link below is to an article that records one how one person (the article’s author) convinced a child to choose books instead of a game.

For more visit:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2013/07/30/how-i-convinced-my-8-year-old-to-choose-books-instead-of-minecraft/

Site: Building a Children’s Library


The link below is to a page on The Guardian’s website that is concerned with putting together a collection of books for a child’s library. Well worth a look I think.

For more visit:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/series/building-a-children-s-library

Article: Reading Books Changes a Child’s Brain


The link below is to an article that reports on how reading books impacts a child’s brain.

For more visit:
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/books-growing-brain/all/1

Article: Cave Bookshelf


It has been a while since we had a look at a bookshelf, so today we have found one to consider. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea and although I don’t drink tea (I drink lots of Coke instead), I still don’t like this bookshelf for my purposes. However, it may be of interest in a child’s room.

The link below is to an article featuring the Cave Bookshelf.

For more visit:
http://bookriot.com/2012/10/12/bookshelf-with-built-in-reading-nook/

Changing the World: December 2 – Child Slavery and Chocolate


Today’s suggestion is about avoiding chocolate that is made with input from child slavery. This was something I wasn’t aware of and is something I will be taking personal action on.

Don’t buy chocolate made by companies that buy their cocoa where there is child slavery. How can you do this? Check the web site below:

http://vision.ucsd.edu/~kbranson/stopchocolateslavery/

A response to reading ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton

Changing the World: November 20 – Child Rights


The suggestion for today is about protecting the rights of children. Here in Australia it is sometimes said that children have more rights than their parents and to some extent this does appear to be a sound argument. More needs to be done to ensure parental rights in the area of discipline (note I didn’t say child abuse), etc.

However, throughout the world children face regular exploitation and abuse. The more that can be done to prevent this sort of abuse the better.

For more information on the rights of children visit:

www.unicef.org/crc

I will always seek to protect the rights of children wherever I see them threatened. This is something that I believe begins right where you live.

A response to reading ‘365 Ways to Change the World,’ by Michael Norton

Changing the World: November 19 – Stopping Child Pornography


This post doesn’t require a lot of explanation I don’t think. The suggestion is to do whatever we can in the war against child pornography – I agree 100% and will do whatever I can. Report it to the authorities at every opportunity and every time.