I don’t know about you, but before I undertake a new project or challenge, I definitely need to psych myself up. For example, if I’m going to take the time, trouble and money to redo a room, I visualize the end product and think about how good I’ll feel when the room is re-organized, repainted and renewed. That usually motivates me enough to choose a paint color and get started. For me, motivation is magic. Considering the perks spurs me to action and infuses me with enthusiasm.
So before you commit to reading aloud regularly this summer, let’s try a little motivation magic to get you pumped up. If you’re reading this blog, you probably are looking for ways to support your fourth through eighth graders literacy development. If you have kids in this age range, you are probably already aware of the research correlating time kids spend reading with gains in reading comprehension and vocabulary. In terms of setting your children up for academic success, reading aloud/reading together is the magic, proven to positively impact academic success. Powerful stuff! But for now, let’s focus on some of the long-term effects of reading aloud in addition to those that are academic.
We all know that once kids reach the Intermediate grades, things begin to change. They have a slew of distractions that intrude on family time. Friends, activities, new hobbies and responsibilities begin to pull them away. That’s natural and yet, most parents want to slow down time once in a while and share enjoyable and meaningful experiences that will last a lifetime. For the child, it’s a time of questioning, figuring things out, developing a value system. Most parents want to have an active role in their child’s emotional development, guiding them as they grow into knowledgeable, compassionate, well-rounded people. Simply put, reading aloud on a regular basis is one of the best ways to do just that.
Modern life often finds family members going in different directions. The family dinner is becoming a thing of the past, the Internet keeps us glued to our screens, sometimes to the exclusion of one another and often both parents hold down full-time jobs. Additionally, kids are exposed to conflict and crisis everyday as they watch the news and witness violence and divisiveness. How is a loving parent going to combat these pressures? May I suggest that choosing appropriate, appealing and well-written texts opens children’s minds and hearts. Sharing time on a regular basis, not only to read-aloud, but to laugh, enjoy a common experience and share reactions can create amazing positive changes in the life of your family and your child.
A few days ago I shared a post entitled, Reconnect Through Reading In it, I alluded to several news articles citing the depression, isolation, addiction and other deep emotional maladies affecting college kids today. My experience and research shows that reading aloud can be a powerful way to fight these problems. When parents share themselves, along with good literature, it builds a bond that deepen the lines of communication, provide authentic teaching moments, and let a child know they are worth the time and energy to reconnect through reading.
As you may sense, I am passionate about fostering this activity in homes. Won’t you consider the many positive effects of reading aloud to your kids this summer? Remember that reading aloud is just as necessary and powerful for our intermediate-age children as for little ones. Thing about it, get psyched, and I’ll be back with a post on some tangible preparations to set yourself up for success. I’d love to hear your comments and questions.