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Why Reading is the Best Homework – Building a Foundation of Literacy

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I’m sure you’ve heard it over and over again, especially in the context of your child and homework…”Dedicate time each night for reading.”  Just why is it so important to make time to read each and every day, especially when your children (and YOU) are busy and have so much to do each day?

During our busy days, it’s easy to axe the things that don’t seem to have an immediate impact on our productivity or our to-do lists.  Reading is something that doesn’t show immediate visible results, and is easy to put off until tomorrow.

This is a mistake, however, as time spent reading is the best indicator of a child’s success in school. It is essential in the development of all language skills, and something your child will access their entire life, no matter what direction their career path brings them.  

Reading together as a family is a great way to carve out some family time during the hustle and bustle of everyone’s busy schedules.  Hearing a voice reading aloud with proper intonation, expression and inflection strengthens the foundational literacy skills that transfer across language boundaries.  A parent reading aloud to their children in their mother tongue helps build these essential literacy skills, no matter the language they are using. The listener hears an exciting, entertaining story in a fluent language, which builds those language skills that will transfer to their academic reading, writing and speaking.  Even if your child doesn’t understand every word, they’ll hear new sounds, words and phrases which they can then try out in their own writing, imitating what they have heard from a familiar story.

These essential literacy building blocks affect so many aspects of our children’s education. Being a good reader in turn makes you a good writer. Reading for pleasure and enjoyment not only helps kids perform better in reading tests, but also increases the general vocabulary of those who read regularly.  And don’t forget, reading is not only about figuring out what is written on the page – understanding the bigger context, inferring how the characters might be feeling, and what might happen next are all ways to increase understanding while reading.

Research from Emanuele Castano and David Kidd has proven that reading literary fiction has an effect on one’s ability to empathize with others, allowing you to see the world through other perspectives and increase your sense of empathy toward others.  Not only does reading have an effect on one’s academics and school success, but also one’s social emotional growth!  

But what about the routine of homework, you might ask?  What about being ready for the increasing demands of middle and high school?  Does reading really prepare children for these higher demands?  

Denise Pope of Challenge Success shares that there is actually no data that shows homework helps children with study skills or organization.  Rather, homework that is meaningful to kids and keeps them engaged is more likely to stick and have an effect on their academics later in their academic years.  What better way to do this than with a book they can’t put down?

So are you ready to take action?  Find out what interests your child, gather books and resources about that topic, and dive in!  Bonus points: find a good read for yourself and model this love of books for your child. Show them your passion for a good book, cozy up together, and enjoy!

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