Reading Early and Often

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

Worth our hard-earned dollars?

More and more parents are resorting to various headstart programs to get their kids ready for first grade. Parents are afraid their kids won't be up to scratch, that their schoolmates will somehow have had a jumpstart on the three R's when they all arrive for that momentous first day of school. Is this fear justified? Are these programs worth our hard-earned dollars?

The key to success 

It's true that children are coming to school without the pre-reading skills that earlier generations possessed. The reason is obvious. I can't prove it, but I can guess. It's about television viewing hours taking the place of quality time with parents. Kids watch 4 hours of television daily. And if they weren't watching television, it's not hard to imagine what they would do instead. They'd get in their parents' hair until said parents were forced to divert their attention from whatever they were doing and relate to their kids. They'd talk with, and read to, their children. And that's the key to a child's success in school and in life.

In a study on early childhood prereading skills of children entering kindergarten, who were read to at least three times a week: 76% of children were able to sound out the first part of a word as opposed to 64% of children who were read to less often. 57% were able to read word endings, as opposed to 43% of those read to less than 3 times a week. 15% of children had sight/word recognition, as compared to 8% of those read to less often, and 5% understood word context, compared to 2% of those who had less reading time with their parents.

I've made a trade: the television for books.

It's time to realize that when we use the television as a time killer or babysitter, we eliminate the reading and conversation that lead to early childhood literacy. My 12 children were raised without the dubious benefits of television. Parents often ask me how I get my children to read. It's clear to me that I've made a trade: the television for books.

My husband knocks off early from work to take our kids to our local library at least twice a week. The librarians let us take out more books than the rules allow. They love the fact that my children love books. My husband doesn't see the library as a nice pastime; he sees the library as a necessity. This attitude carries over to my children in spades.

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