Parents often came to me asking what they could do to help their children be successful in school. This inquiry always spiked in the beginning of 3rd grade because the mandated passing score on state testing began to loom over the entire family like the Grinch on Christmas Eve. The answer to this question varied in terms of nuance, but the single message was always the same: read to your child. All the time. From the day they are born. Reading not only helps students in subjects like Reading (duh) and English, but also science and math. See, around second grade, students shift from learning to read to reading to learn. This means that if they aren’t successful readers yet, their understanding and knowledge of all other subjects is compromised.
In “one of the most extensive studies of independent reading yet conducted,” Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) traced reading growth to reading volume and independent reading. As illustrated in this chart, they found that the amount of time students spent in independent reading outside of school was the best predictor of reading achievement.
So please, please, please read to your children. Read non-fiction, fiction, magazines, articles, food labels--anything they are even remotely interested in learning about. I can’t tell you how much I know about monster trucks, dinosaurs, and pressing buttons we’re not supposed to. If you want to know how to best support your child during their summer months away from school, the answer is read.