In my last post, I stressed the importance of starting early when helping children how to read, and mentioned that reading at home is ideal for making that happen. Here are some stats from the National Institute for Literacy:
The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that of the children who were read to at least three times a week as they entered kindergarten:
* 76% had mastered the letter-sound relationship at the beginning of words, compared to 64% of children who were read to fewer than 3 times a week,
* 57% had mastered the letter-sound relationship at the end of words, compared to 43% who were read to fewer than 3 times a week,
* 15% had sight-word recognition skills, compared to 8% who were read to fewer than 3 times a week, and
* 5% could understand words in context, compared to 2% who were read to fewer than 3 times a week.
There are a lot of other benefits listed, like the fact that "children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading than children who were read to less than 3 times a week." Knowing all of this, I want to talk a bit about the challenges to parental involvement.
One of the stats about parental involvement says:
"62% of parents with a high socioeconomic status read to their children every day, compared to 36% of parents with a low socioeconomic status."Another fact sheet about welfare and literacy indicates that:
"In the 1992 NALS, the average prose proficiency of the total population who described themselves as reading English "very well" or "well" was 282 (Level 3), compared to 255 (Level 2) for welfare recipients who described themselves as reading English "very well" or "well."
We know that dedicating yourself to help your children with their reading takes a lot of time and patience. Toddlers and really young children like ripping pages and fidgeting around, and even young children are easily distracted. Picture that scenario for those with low socioeconomic status. You've just worked all day, maybe even at two jobs... having to cook, clean, and get your children to bed might get in the way of your time and patience.
Or maybe you're a parent who has literacy problems of your own. You can tell stories to your child while they're very young, but you might not be that helpful when it comes to reading and sounding out the letters of a word. Maybe you can read, but not in the language your child is learning. What then?
All of this has a high potential to become a cycle that continues on years later.
Yet, we hear stories of children getting into higher grades concealing the fact that they can't read. And I've witnessed several people mock these children rather than offer any help or think about how they got to that point in the first place. Maybe if we all did less mocking and complaining, and a lot more helping and supporting, we could stop the cycle.