Tuesday, December 22, 2009

'Tis the Week Before Christmas...

and Bookivore is in a fair way to losing her mind.

The rush and craziness that accompanies this season sometimes makes it feel almost not worth it -- which is just a shocking, awful thing to admit. I have tried this year to make little oases of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle. One such oasis is advent devotions, something we've always wanted to do, but never seem to have made a priority until this year.

Beyond the obvious spiritual benefits to reading a devotion with your kids, there are benefits on the learning front as well. Check out this quote from Education.com:

"Research shows that reading aloud to children promotes their development of language, vocabulary, even motor skills (as they learn to turn pages). Kids who are read to consistently from an early age don't only learn to read more easily, but they also show better language scores long after kindergarten is a distant memory-- years later in upper elementary school. In fact, the research on reading aloud is so strong, that the American Academy of Pediatrics recently began advising member doctors to prescribe daily reading to young children." (highlighted emphasis mine)

Reading something like a devotional book, particularly one that is meant to be used by a family and is therefore targeted to a wide range of ages, helps children build vocabulary. The questions for discussion provided at the end of the devotional help kids connect prior knowledge with new information, always always always a good thing.

I have looked everywhere for the research article that discusses this but can't find it, so I'm going to report it anyway without factual basis. You can take it with a grain of salt, if that's how you roll. A study I read about 10 years ago found that if a parent reads to a child -- not just kids' books, but anything at all; newspaper, cereal boxes, whatever; the child's perception of reading as an important, desirable activity increased by a nice fat amount (I want to say 30%, but I don't remember the specifics). But, and this is the kicker, if the child's father does the reading, the percentage of increase more than doubled. This is true to a somewhat lesser degree if the child merely sees the parents reading -- it conveys a sense of importance to the act of reading.

If your kids have a man in their lives, make him read to them. Even if it's just the sports scores from the paper or the instructions on how to program the DVR, his input is invaluable. Trade off reading duties with your husband at bedtime (or make it his job completely -- you probably deserve a break anyway).

I know it's like a sound byte that you're sick of hearing, but reading to your kids makes a difference. After the new year I'm going to do a weekly post on specific techniques to help improve reading skills in kids. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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