Written by Dr. Charles Murphy, Island Trees Superintendent of Schools Friday, 18 November 2011 00:00
Parents are the most powerful and needed force in educating children. They set the expectations for future success. After all, a child spends about 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours at home. Naturally, a parent’s job is not an easy one, especially today when we’re all pulled in a million different directions in our work and home lives. We all try to prioritize what’s important and how to manage all of these priorities, including our most important priority – our children. It’s like anything else in life – if you put a lot of time and energy into your children – the fruits of your efforts will be bountiful. If you do not, most of us know how this story ends. I’m asked over and over what parents can do to help their children succeed. Read to your children from infancy through the elementary grades. Read to them, read to them, and read to them some more. This modeling and practice will not only emphasis the importance of reading, but will enable your child’s vocabulary to grow exponentially, as well as create a tremendous foundation of knowledge. Equally important, reading to children creates a powerful parent/child bond – a connection that will provide a lifetime of memories for child and parent.
Parents who spend time talking, as well as reading to their children each day (not missing a day) for at least 20 minutes have children who by age 4 have heard over 45 million words. Children of parents who do not read to them end up hearing about 13 million words in this same timeframe. One can only imagine the educational advantage the “read aloud” child has over the non-read aloud one. Clearly, this gap of 32 million words in this short time period is only going to continue to widen through their school years. Without a doubt, the work by read aloud parents would place their children in an advantageous position for future school success.