Reading beyond the classroom!
Encouraging children to read for pleasure requires time, patience, and support. It’s estimated that children need 5000 hours of practice time to master the complex skills required for them to become strong readers. This cannot be accomplished in the classroom alone; especially with teachers already juggling a demanding curriculum!
When teaching children to read, we build upon their early knowledge of language acquired through their interactions and experiences. If children do not grow up in language rich environments, they can often find it difficult to keep up with their peers who do, especially when it comes to learning to read.
As highlighted by Damian Hinds, these early literacy attainment gaps in the classroom can have a devastating impact on social mobility. For the 28% of primary children who start their education behind their peers, it can be extremely difficult to catch up. Their peers don’t wait and the gap simply widens. Some of the latest DfE statistics now even suggest those children who do have poor vocabularies at the age of five are twice as likely to be unemployed at the age of 34.
Within schools we can provide children with many opportunities to develop their enthusiasm for reading, however, it is just as important to ensure that children’s home environments also support their literacy development. Those children whose parents are involved with their reading not only begin school with an academic advantage over their peers, but also show much greater emotional resilience, an ability to maintain more positive relationships, as well as present with fewer behavioural problems.
For the families themselves, reading can also provide a wonderful opportunity to spend time adventuring together into a world of books. However, it’s no secret that the importance of shared reading can often be overlooked, especially amidst today’s many technological distractions. As teachers it is therefore important to openly discuss with parents the incredible impact that even just 15 minutes of home reading can have on their child’s development.
Children who see their parents value and engage with reading themselves are also much more likely to read for their own pleasure. It’s therefore important for parents to show they value reading by sharing and discussing books with their children. It’s here schools can help!
Creating take-home materials including lists of questions to ask, or diaries where shared reading can be recorded, can help to encourage parents to ensure reading is not squeezed out of busy family life. Schools should also encourage families to join their local library, so they can choose books together, as well as find authors and materials that their children love. During the holidays the library can provide families with opportunities to get involved with literacy initiatives, and help to extend that all important reading culture beyond the classroom.
You can download Lexplore’s Home Reading Tips for FREE within our Reading for Pleasure Guide. These can be used as sources of inspiration or as materials to share with parents, helping improve engagement beyond the classroom!