It’s parent-teacher conference time! For many parents, the pressure is on. Your child has been in school for a few months now. How are they stacking up? You’ve seen the insta-videos of proud moms sharing shots of kids reading fluently at age 5, winning the advanced spelling bee, or reading every sight word known to man. It’s tough not to feel a touch of anxiety as we take our seats in those tiny chairs and prepare to hear how our kids are progressing as readers (and friends, and citizens, etc. etc. etc.)
1. A child’s brain is not wired to read.
Ever find yourself worried that your child is not “naturally” learning to read in the way she learned to walk and talk? Well don’t! The literacy experts at HOMER want to ease your mind.
Walking and talking are developmental milestones in a child’s life. So is reading. But reading doesn’t just “happen.” And the human brain is naturally wired to talk, but not read. For most children, reading requires direct instruction, repeated exposure to letter sounds, practice and immersion in books kids love.
A few days ago, I visited my daughter’s classroom for a “gallery tour” of the “self portraits” the kids had been working on for a few weeks in art. The kids proudly walked their parents through the classroom, sharing the different portraits and pointing out the subtle differences in each beautiful drawing. “Addie has green eyes and brown skin and I have green eyes and peach skin. See mommy.” Without judgment or discomfort, my daughter talked about the colors and features that made her and her friends different. At a time when many of us are wondering how to talk about diversity with our kids, my daughter’s gallery tour was a powerful reminder of how much we can learn from our own children. I’m happy to say that we can also learn a lot from our Mom friends.
It’s back to school season and many young learners are embarking on an entirely new adventure – kindergarten! According to the National Center for Education Statistics, students enter kindergarten at very different skills levels, which is natural given that children may be coming from a variety of early childhood experiences, ranging from highly-skilled-focused pre-K programs, play-based preschools, Head Start, or no preschool at all. An average kindergarten class may have children with a five-year skill range in terms of reading ability, from children who don’t recognize letters or letter sounds to those who can read short books.
It might sound obvious, but a strong early start in reading and math is crucial for young children. Early math and literacy skills are highly predictive of later success in school and beyond. In fact, research shows that children who read for pleasure are more likely to do better in reading AND math than children who don’t.