Out of all the different ways that parents can improve a child’s education, the number one thing costs no more than a free library card and time. We can read to them.
In 1983, the U.S. Department of Education was concerned about low academic performance scores, so they funded a Commission on Reading who spent two years combing through thousands of research reports conducted over the previous twenty-five years, and in 1985 they published their findings in a report titled Becoming a Nation of Readers. Amidst all of their digging, they discovered that reading out loud to kids is the number one most important thing we can do to help our kids become successful learners.
“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” the report said. “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.”
I’ve Seen It First Hand
As homeschool parents, we have the privilege of watching our kiddos learn to read, and I’ve noticed that reading seems to happen in different ways for different kids. My third child took to reading like a fish in water. He just got it, and by the time he was four years old, he we pretty a fluent reader, who could zip through simple chapter books without any help from me. One of my kids magically taught herself to read. She’s our fifth child, and I guess she just didn’t want to wait for me to get around to teaching her, so she piled a stack of books on the couch, day after day and flipped through them. We would all smile at her cutest, but never in a million years did we think should would be successful. Honestly, we were floored when she emerged from her daily ritual a few months later able to read completely on her own. We still don’t know how she did it. The next kid did a similarly amazing thing. He asked us to put the captions on whenever he watched TV or a movie, and low and behold, that little bugger learned to read! But a couple of my kids didn’t take to it so easily.