by: Analeis Weidlich posted Monday, December 6, 2010
I was always envious of those parents that did flashcards and daily drilling of ABC’s and numbers with their kids. You also had the parents who transformed their whole life into a classroom all in the hopes of making superstars. I could never quite get organized enough, or muster-up enough energy between working and all the other mom duties. Then as each kid came along, I was just coping on a daily basis to stay sane. I was certain those kids that had been drilled daily were going to be superstars, and my kids were going to be at the bottom of the pack. After having three kids enter school, I can say there are things I would do differently, but it isn’t doing monkey training with flashcards and daily drilling.
By the time kids get into 3rd/4th grade the majority of children are reading at about the same level. Sure you are going to get the handful of kids who are just super smart, ironically in most cases not the kids from flashcard parents. But the playing field levels when it comes to reading. However this is a crucial age when kids need to read as a way to learn new things, they need to understand and comprehend what they are reading, not just say words. This is where doing things at a younger age can make an impact and I would do things differently if I could do it again.
The biggest regret I have is not exposing all of my kids to tons of books at an early age. I don’t mean flashcards, and learning your alphabet at age 3, but taking them to the library frequently, going to bookstores to browse the shelves, introducing them to lots of printed material and just reading a lot to them even if they are in preschool or daycare. I wasn’t totally neglectful, I read to them 2-3 times a week at bedtime, but it wasn’t enough. If I had to do it all over again, I would at least get to the public library a couple of times a month and I would read to my kids at least 15 minutes a day – 7 days a week. Having had three kids enter the school system, I can strongly suggest if the only thing you do with your kids when they are little is read a lot to them, it will make all the difference as they move through school. Their reading and comprehension skills will be much stronger. This one thing will have the biggest lifelong impact.
Here are a few facts & statistics.
- 2.5% of U.S. families use the public library system on a regular basis.
- 80% of U.S. families did not buy or read a book last year.
- 70% of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years.
- Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. Reference: Anderson, Wilson, & Fielding, 1988
- First grade children with good word recognition skills were exposed to almost twice as many words as were children who had poor word recognition skills. Reference: Juel, 1988
- Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare. Fourth grade is the watershed year. Reference: The Jenkins Group