The other day I was reading some research that one of our catalog writers had come across. The U.S. Department of Education's Commission on Reading stated that reading out loud to children is the most important thing you can do to teach what they need to know for future success in reading. Research by reading expert Dr. Kylene Beers demonstrates that the single greatest predictor of children's future success is how much people read to them before they enter Kindergarten. Intrigued by what she had discovered, I dug a little further and my own research produced the following facts:
- When parents read to their children, they spend time discussing the pictures, what the characters are doing, and what the story means. This high-level comprehension skill helps children understand the story better.
- Children benefit more from reading with their parents if the children ask and answer questions, discuss the events as they unfold during the story and make predictions about what will happen next. This approach allows children to listen to new vocabulary words and to practice using those words in speech, which builds their language skills.
- Early readers tend to read choppily and without expression. Parents who read to their children provide a fluency model.
It is wonderful to see formal research proving what we already know to be true ... there is just no substitute for curling up on the couch with a kid and a good book.
As homeschool moms we are wired to have regrets. If I had only started my daughter on basic math skills earlier, she might not be struggling with her college math courses now. I probably should have spent more time on those writing assignments with my son, so he was better prepared for his upcoming ACT essay. Maybe that Girl Scout Troop would have been a good opportunity for better socialization for my oldest. I'm sure you occasionally (or maybe often) find yourself wondering if you always made the right academic and social choices for your children. I know that I do. But reading the research I referenced above reminded me of the one thing about homeschooling that I have never regretted ... reading aloud to my children.
Sonlight has a long list of reasons for incorporating "read-aloud" literature in their curriculum materials. But before I ever discovered homeschooling or Sonlight, I experienced the thrill of holding a pre-schooler captive merely by opening a good book. How wonderful to learn that what I did purely for pleasure was actually laying a firm foundation for the rest of my children's education.
So if you have a pre-schooler and are wondering where to begin with their education, let me encourage you to set aside concerns about math and spelling and science and instead invest time, lots of it, in simply reading aloud to your child. Read outside in the grass, read while you're stretched out on the living room floor, read in bed at night before turning out the light, read at the lunch table ... you get the idea. Not sure *what* to read? Some of my favorite titles can be found in Sonlight's Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Fun for Little Learners program.
Pick up a good book, curl up with your child, and lay a solid foundation for future academics ... no regrets.
Still on the journey ...
Sonlight Customer Champion