More than 50 million households across the country becoming makeshift classrooms
NEW YORK, March 30, 2020 – Parents across the United States are converting dens, living rooms and dining areas into temporary classrooms for their children who will be learning from home due to extended school closings resulting from restrictions put in place to combat the Coronavirus. While regular family routines are being interrupted with many parents having to work from home, Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, stresses the importance of maintaining a regular reading routine during this challenging time.
Research shows a direct and proven relationship between family engagement and the academic growth and development of children, including social competence and relationships, cognitive development, communication skills, literacy development, vocabulary growth, expressive language and comprehension skills. Many of a child’s literacy habits and abilities are formed before the age of 8. Children who are not reading at grade level by the time they are in the fourth grade have a significantly lower chance of catching up and will likely experience academic difficulties throughout the rest of their schooling.
“The number one reason parents usually give for not reading with their child more is lack of time,” said Michelle Torgerson, president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “All of us will likely be spending a lot more time at home than usual during the next couple of months which makes this an ideal time to pursue reading activities and make reading a regular part of your family’s routine, which will hopefully last beyond this period of isolation.
Raising A Reader offers parents these tips for making the most of your time at home with your children:
- Reading can get lost in the shuffle of doing assignments and worksheets provided by schools and participating in online lessons. Schedule a regular time to share books with your child and establish a regular routine to ensure reading doesn’t become a low priority and has the same importance as other educational activities.
- While you can’t take your child to a physical library right now, take a trip together to a “virtual library.” All sorts of books are available digitally and can be downloaded instantly from various online bookstores. Browse the “aisles” with your child and talk about the different books you see. Oftentimes, you can see a few pages from a book before you purchased it so taker a peek together and decide what is most exciting and interesting.
- If your child wants to stream a movie that happens to be based on a book, read the book with your child first and then let them watch the movie as a reward. Engage your child in discussions about differences or similarities between the book and the movie.
- Create an outdoor reading area so the whole family can get some revitalizing fresh air and not feel stuck inside. Children generally read indoors, so being outdoors will create a new environment for enjoying a book and boost a child’s enthusiasm for reading. You can also find ways to integrate reading and exercise, such as running a lap around the backyard after each book or jumping up and down the same number of times as there are pages in the book.
- Find books that are centered around activities your child enjoys. If he or she likes to go horseback riding, for example, find books about horses or stories with horses as an integral part of the plot. This will give a child a welcome change from the types of books normally read during the school year and better complement their interests and level of enthusiasm.
- If you are working from home, talk with your child about your job, what you do and other interesting things about your profession. Go online and find books about different types of jobs and read them together. Have your child tell you a job they would like to have and why it interests them.
- Create a special “home school reading challenge” with rewards every time a certain number of books is read, or at the completion of a long book. Engage your child in a discussion about each book, talk about what they liked and ask thought-provoking questions such as coming up with a different ending or a new character.
- Just as you read to your child, have them read to their pet and make them feel grown up as if they are the parent.
- Organize a virtual story time with your child and his or her friends using one of the many video communication platforms available. This will enable your child to not only enjoy books but also have interaction with friends which will go a long way toward reducing “cabin fever.” When you are connected to other families, there are all sorts of things you can do besides just reading, Have a group discussion about one of the books, let the children take turns reading, have a child make sound effects or any other number of things to bring the story time to life.
- Write a story with your child. You can come up with a story idea together, work on illustrations and create characters. There are also ways to turn writing a story into a game, such as taking turns writing the next page, which is a lot of fun particularly if you have more than one child. You can make this as simple as using pages on a pad or take it up a notch by using a computer to print out the pages with graphics chosen by your child.
More information and resources can be found at the Raising A Reader website and YouTube channel:
The Raising A Reader program is evidence-based, with 39 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. The program is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 3,000 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies, and other organizations both public and private. More than 15 million books are currently in rotation to children across the country.
Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice, and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.7 million children nationwide. More information is available at www.RaisingAReader.org. Follow on Twitter @RARnational, Facebook at RaisingAReaderNational and Instagram at raising_a_reader.
Categories: Raising A Reader