|Internal Today note Perspective|
Motivating kids to read
Effective reading is perhaps the most essential skill in life, with effective writing a close second. We need to be able to communicate well.
IBNA: While the technological age brings a host of devices that will supposedly make it easier for us to share our ideas, many of us have lost the ability (even the motivation) to understand others and be understood by them.
Many students who excel in school have learned to read for fun from a young age, and sustain the habit throughout their lives. They do not groan when they have to read lengthy novels or plays, and actually read entire books rather than rely on shortcuts or summaries.
When asked to write essays, they welcome the chance to test the power of words.
A 2004 study of Ateneo de Manila High School achievers found that respondents had developed the habit of reading for pleasure.
Reading, like most skills, is a habit developed in children with the help of the school and the home. Schools should ensure that their curricula revolve around reading and writing, with appropriate texts and materials.
Teachers should be trained on assessment and pedagogy, and updated on communication skills.
What can parents do to help children become lifelong readers?
If a child is already a skilled or advanced reader, encourage her to continue reading. Vary the materials and topics. Challenge her with more complex books.
For instance, if your Grade 6 daughter has been reading romance novels for the past two years, introduce her to other genres such as fantasy, nonfiction, or the classics.
If a child is a struggling reader, observe her reading behavior so you can diagnose the problem. How does the child react when it is time to read? Is she nervous, rebellious, hesitant? Does she find it hard to focus? Does she read too slowly and haltingly, or too fast, skipping over complex words? Does she understand what she reads, or does she interpret the material wrongly?
Perhaps vocabulary is a problem. Ask her to pause in the middle of the text when she encounters an unfamiliar word. Remind her to use the dictionary. Or teach her to infer the meaning through context clues first before using the dictionary.
If comprehension is her weakness, several strategies may help. My favorites are questioning, monitoring, summarizing. Ask her questions often or, better still, train her to ask her own questions about what is happening in the text, and even predict what may come next.
Guide her to monitor her own understanding. She has to stop and think when something is unclear. Does she understand what she reads? At the end of a chapter or even a page, guide her to summarize in her own words what she has read.
Is she enthusiastic about certain topics? Does she prefer certain formats? Perhaps she prefers comics to novels. She can start with illustrated books, then move on to mostly text materials.
Some American studies have shown that many adolescent boys lose interest in reading because they do not see its relevance to real life. Usually, teen boys go for fantasy and warfare, though some boys may prefer nonfiction books. Expose them to materials on gadgets, electronics, movie-making.
Teen girls who shun “chick-lit” can try books on pets, astronomy, hobbies.
Do pictures help or hinder reading? For young readers used to lots of pictures, chapter books like the Geronimo Stilton series can help in the transition to words. But advanced readers may find the pictures distracting. You know your child best.
Growing research has revealed that many children lose interest in printed materials, preferring fast-paced movies, games, and websites. If a child spends more than two hours online but cannot sit for ten minutes with a textbook, minimize multimedia.
Studies of eye motion show that when we “read” websites, we do not concentrate word for word or phrase by phrase, but instead scan, and click on hyperlinks to another site.
Scanning makes research much faster, but sacrifices accuracy, depth and focus. Constant shifting from page to page, picture to picture, link to link may be detrimental to growing brains. It has also been associated with an increase in attention deficit disorders in the United States.
If a child has difficulty focusing on a page, reading with a finger or a bookmark may improve concentration. During reading time, the television, computer, cellular phone, game console should all be turned off.
When you have young kids, J. Richard Gentry’s book “Raising Confident Readers” is an excellent resource. Gentry discusses what happens to a child’s brain as she starts to read. He recommends activities to develop literacy naturally and books for children until age 7.
Gentry advises parents on dealing with dyslexia, delayed reading and other challenges. The book is available in National Book Store in Greenhills (beside OB Montessori).
Kids should see you reading! You cannot expect children to develop the reading habit when they see you slumped in front of the TV and barely read anything. Stress the value of reading over TV or computer games.
Make reading a family activity. Discuss books or news stories over dinner. Visit bookstores regularly. National Book Store sells used books, and so do Book Sale and Books for Sale. My family rejoices in August and September because these are book sale months. We buy many books that we enjoy throughout the year.
Scholastic International has developed a test to measure a child’s current reading ability. Many children do not like to read because the books are either too easy or too difficult. The test tries to give an objective measure of reading skill.
Scholastic partner-schools such as Ateneo de Manila Grade School, Assumption Makati, and Immaculate Conception Academy offer the test.
source: Philippine Daily
Id : 111207