Sunday, November 11, 2007

Does reading to your child really help?

On Thursday I had Parent/Teacher Conferences. I spent my afternoon and until 8:00 p.m. meeting with 23 out of the 26 parents of my children. I prepared folders for them that had a wide variety of activities that they could do with their child. I hope they will use them. I set goals for my students and discussed what I was going to do to help their student achieve these goals. I then asked for them to support their child from home. I said this phrase at least 23 times, "If you push from home and I push from school then we can get them to their first grade goals."

Most importantly I tried to display my passion for their child as readers and writers. We displayed our Celebrity Writer Profiles in the hallway to be read as parents waited. Most parents of first graders are concerned about their child's handwriting, I am not. It is getting their mind to switch from handwriting to being writers. Most parents do not believe that their child could be a writer, I need to change their minds.
My passion for reading must come through as well, we must truly get parents to believe that reading to their child can make a huge impact on their child's outcome as a student. I always try to praise the parents that do read at home, trust me, a teacher can tell who is being read to and who is not! I try to sway those parents to be reading at home. There have been studies that have shown the huge impact reading at home has on young readers.
So, why is reading with your child so difficult?
If you know it has a huge impact then why aren't you doing it?
How can we get parents to understand this?
I don't pretend to have the answer to this but here are some things that I tell my parents during that conference:
1. I know how busy your life is, I have two small children, a full time job, and a home. Reading can be the furthest thing from my mind, but it can also be the most quiet moment of my day. My kids and I hunker down and snuggle through some great books!
2. It only takes 10-15 minutes, we have that amount of time to devote to our children.
3. Older brothers and sisters can help!
4. If they see it as important for you then they will assume that it is important for them as well.
5. I have given you monthly homework packets so that you have time for reading. I have made time for you, there is no excuse!

Some teachers dread the parent/teacher conference, I look forward to that time. It is a time for me to display my passions and goals for their student. They should walk away knowing that their child is in very capable hands.
What do you do to encourage reading at home for your students?


Katie Dicesare said...

I have had the same conversations with parents. Yes, reading at home really does make a difference!! When we model reading and love of reading at home, kids soak up literacy and value it. I empathize as well and beg parents for 10 minutes a night. I encourage reading at home with bags of books sent home. Kids bring home just right books and books of their choice from our classroom library. Thanks for your post!

Jen Barney said...

M & M love our special "nug" time. We ALWAYS read before bed... that's our connecting time with the kids. On the weekends, anytime is a good time to sit and share a good book. Right now David Shannon for lil' M and Non-Ficiton text for big M.

Stacey Shubitz said...

Can you say more about the homework packet thing?

AngelaTIC said...

Great words, Sarah. I hope those parents know how fortunate they are to have their children in your capable hands everyday.