Whether your child has returned to school remotely or via a hybrid model this fall, their education is more digitized than ever.
I learned new online platforms through several professional development classes myself this summer, and I couldn’t help but think about how little actual reading students will need to do to complete their schoolwork.
Even before COVID-19, reading proficiency in the U.S. was in serious straits. According to the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card that tests a broad cross section of U.S. fourth and eighth graders from public and private schools every two years, 65% of fourth graders and 66% of eighth graders were not proficient readers.
Now that students are required to spend even more time online, educational researchers are increasingly concerned about students’ reading proficiency. With more children turning to online outlets for their downtime and fewer turning to books, the impact in the classroom is palpable. To put it bluntly, children who do not read for pleasure are not as successful as those who do.
Technology is important and necessary, but one of the toughest challenges for parents today is helping their children find a healthy balance between screen time and reading time.
If your child has already discovered the joys of reading for pleasure – hooray!
What about the reluctant reader, though, the child who simply isn’t interested in books? There is hope for them, too. As J.K. Rowling says, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
Children generally need to be led by the hand to discover the joy of reading, and a family read-aloud ritual is one of the most powerful ways to open a child’s eyes to the magic of books. Whether or not your child has already discovered the pleasures of reading, a daily time of shared reading with you will bring invaluable rewards. In my book, “The Invisible Toolbox,” I explain the priceless tools children gain when they are read to. Reading to a child from birth is optimum, but it’s never too late to start.
The tools your child gains will support not only important literacy skills that enable school success, but also enhance their social-emotional well-being. Recent studies show that reading puts our brains into a state similar to meditation and brings the same health benefits: deeper relaxation, inner calm, lower stress levels and lower rates of depression.
The thought of beginning a new daily ritual may feel like adding one more thing to your already full plate right now. I can guarantee, however, that if you give it a try and stick with it, the comforting oasis you create will nourish you and your children through this disruptive season and far beyond.
Kim Jocelyn Dickson, M.A., is a parent, teacher and the author of “The Invisible Toolbox: The Power of Reading to Your Child from Birth to Adolescence.” Visit theinvisibletoolbox.org for more information.