Every year Americans spend millions on clothes, toys, electronics, gift cards, greeting cards and decorations (among other things). The commercial aspect of the "Holiday Season" is well documented. The frenzy of spending starts earlier and earlier each year.
Every once in a while, though, someone reminds us that gifts don't have to cost a lot of money.
Jesse Turner, the director of the Central Connecticut State Literacy Center Department of Reading Language Arts, has a blog called Children are More Than Test Scores. His entry for today, December 21, 2010, reminded me that amid my thrashing about trying to convince people that NCLB and RttT are going to be the downfall of Public Education in the United States, there is the quiet voice of reason making a suggestion that will do more to educate our children than all the laws and tests will ever do.
When his daughter was 7 years old, in second grade, she brought home a note from her teacher.
The note 14 years ago said: Read to and with your child for some 30 minutes a night. This was the request from Mrs. Crowley her second grade teacher…Her note to parents simply said: read to and with your child for 30 minutes every night. It was hand written something unheard of in these days of the printer rules. Do this to encourage a love of reading, be a ham, play it up, and enjoy every moment.According to Jim Trelease, author of the Read Aloud Handbook, reading aloud to your children is the single most effective thing that parents (and, I might add, teachers) can do to improve reading skills. He wrote,
Looking at the impact of frequent household reading to preschoolers, the analysis showed clear positive gains for phonemic awareness, language growth and beginning reading skills. In addition, there was just as much of an impact for lower SES children as higher SES, and the earlier or younger the reading began, the better the results. Even when children reach primary grades, research has shown repeat (3) picture book readings increases vocabulary acquisition by 15 to 40 percent, and the learning is relatively permanent. The international assessment of 150,000 fourth-graders in showed an average 35-point advantage for students who were read to more often by parents.So, here's the gift from Jesse Turner...
...parents, grandparents, guardians read to your children, read to them not to bring up their test scores, not even to make them better readers, but to plant a love of reading.
Let's pass on Mrs. Crowley’s message written from a time when children were more than test scores… Before the race to the top, and before NCLB. Do it to encourage a love of reading, be a ham, play it up, and enjoy every moment..