Highlands Blog

Reading with Your Older Student

Janie Fahey
My name is Janie Fahey, and I teach fourth and fifth grade Language Arts here at Highlands School. I wanted to follow-up to Ms. Harris’s post from last week about the importance of reading with your child.
Research shows us that if your child is reading only five minutes per day outside of school, he/she is exposed to 282,000 words per year. With an increase of only an additional ten minutes of reading per day, your child has increased his/her exposure to words by 217%, with an exposure to just over 895,000 words per year. We ask our students to read a minimum of twenty minutes outside of school every day. This ensures an exposure to about 1.8 million words in a year. With just an additional ten minutes, increasing that reading time to 30 minutes per day, your child has increased his/her exposure to words by 47%, reaching approximately 2.69 million words. This is significant. If you are wondering how you can help your child be successful, have them read every day.

As teachers, we know one of the first things that students will say they didn’t have time to complete for homework is independent reading. Children have after-school activities, there’s homework to get done, dinner to eat, and getting ready for bed. But, the key is the exposure to print. Your child doesn’t have to sit down for an entire twenty or thirty minute block of uninterrupted time. They can read snippets of their books here and there. If they always have their book with them, much like we carry our phones, they can read five or ten minutes in the car on the way home from school.  They can read to and from an after-school activity. They can read as they settle into bed for the night. All those minutes add up quickly to twenty or thirty minutes a day.
As our children get older and become independent readers, we still have a chance to continue that special time that we spent with them when they were young readers.  You might think that because your children are older and know how to read, there is not a benefit in your reading to them. There is. Although your children may be reading independently on grade level, at what level are they able to listen? A child’s reading level doesn’t catch up to his/her listening level until eighth grade. Reading aloud to your children allows them to hear higher level of vocabulary, a more complicated and exciting plot, and advanced character development. These things will get your child excited about the book you’re sharing. Reading aloud to your children is a good way to handle difficult issues, expose them to different experiences, and allow their imaginations to grow. When you share books with your children, you have the opportunity to discuss problems taking place in the story, to make predictions about the action and the characters, to discuss how the characters change throughout the story, and much more. This helps to develop their reading comprehension. By reading to and with your children as they grow older, you are showing them that you value reading. This is a special time shared between you, making memories for a lifetime.
Highlands School, 4901 Old Leeds Road, Birmingham, AL 35213, (205) 956-9731
Highlands School's 'whole child' approach to education and commitment to academic excellence, creative expression, and leadership development prepare and motivate students in grades 4k through 8 to make a positive difference in an ever-changing world. Located in Birmingham, Alabama, Highlands School holds dual accrediation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Southern Associations of Independent Schools (SAIS).

For more information, visit www.highlandsschool.org.