Reading to Your Child is Fundamental for Success

I believe most parents would agree that we never stop learning. This insightful  article (quotes and link below) from NY Times columist Thomas Friedman offers some good advice for parents regarding education.

First, a sad fact about America's young people. A quote:

"Every three years, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or O.E.C.D., conducts exams as part of the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which tests 15-year-olds in the world’s leading industrialized nations on their reading comprehension and ability to use what they’ve learned in math and science to solve real problems — the most important skills for succeeding in college and life. America’s 15-year-olds have not been distinguishing themselves in the PISA exams compared with students in Singapore, Finland and Shanghai."

Another quote on why the big differrence:

For instance, the PISA study revealed that “students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child ‘every day or almost every day’ or ‘once or twice a week’ during the first year of primary school have markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents reported that they had read a book with their child ‘never or almost never’ or only ‘once or twice a month.’ On average, the score difference is 25 points, the equivalent of well over half a school year.” 

Reading to your child may come naturally and its benefits could seem obvious although it's clear from the study that many parents aren't reading to their children on a regular basis.  I know several educated parents who admitted to me that they rarely read newspapers, online articles or books, which surprised me. It's doubtful they are frequent readers to their young ones.

One of the reasons I'm a competent writer is that my mother and father were big proponents of education. On the nights I didn't have homework, my mother often gave me her own homework. In addition, I love to read and much of that stems from my parents. Because of their care, educational success was made easy and it sparked my curiosity about the world..

Currently, America is in a lot of pain, with millions unemployed and a bad economy. One way to bring back some of the pleasure is to make sure reading stays front and center in as many homes as possible. As this article suggests, one's background isn't necessarily a barrier in helping your child to succeed:

The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socioeconomic background. Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.” 

Additional insight:

“Monitoring homework; making sure children get to school; rewarding their efforts and talking up the idea of going to college. These parent actions are linked to better attendance, grades, test scores, and preparation for college,” Barth wrote. “The study found that getting parents involved with their children’s learning at home is a more powerful driver of achievement than parents attending P.T.A. and school board meetings, volunteering in classrooms, participating in fund-raising, and showing up at back-to-school nights.” 

In our busy worlds, it would be beneficial for parents to sit back now and then , reflect and make sure we are giving our child the best possible opportunity for success. Reading more is an easy way to do that. 

The author's final point:

To be sure, there is no substitute for a good teacher. There is nothing more valuable than great classroom instruction. But let’s stop putting the whole burden on teachers. We also need better parents. Better parents can make every teacher more effective. 


Happy Gswede Sunday!

The beauty of Barcelona, Spain in November.

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