Written by Island Trees Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Murphy Friday, 15 October 2010 00:00
Sometimes the simplest things we do have the greatest impact…a thank you with a smile …holding the door for someone…a compliment. All of these have a tremendous impact, more than we probably even realize, and are simple ways to improve the lives around us. Parents often ask me, “What can I do to improve my child’s school success?” Simple, “Read.” Reading to children is the single most important factor to school success. Such a simple concept, and yet it has an extraordinary impact on academic success.
Indeed, the research is overwhelming: children who are read to daily generally do extremely well in school. Children are able to learn new vocabulary, develop new concepts, and are able to gain a wealth of knowledge from the books that are read aloud to them. Everything we learn is built upon a foundation of learning. Interestingly enough, like the construction of a new home, the key to educational success begins with a strong foundation. In education, the foundation is built layer by layer with new learning and knowledge. Without the strong foundation, the more advanced topics are largely unsupported and new ideas may have little relevance or meaning to children. As a result, students with a weak foundation often struggle as teachers “frame” the structures for future success.
Equally important, reading aloud promotes a love of learning. Children love and adore their parents, and learn by their example. So it’s not surprising for children to follow their parent’s example. Therefore, if you model the way, they will follow. Kids don’t want to “be like Mike”—they want to be like you! Reading to your children makes them feel important and strengthen the parent-child bond more than you ever imagined possible.
In short, reading to your children is one of the simplest things in life, and a gift that is truly everlasting and supports school success.