Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First


Reading To, And With, Young Students Helps Them At School

During the time she studied for her Early Childhood Education Endorsement, Potter-Dix kindergarten teacher Chari Mohr made some startling discoveries.

"A kindergarten student who has not been read to could enter school with less than 60 hours of literacy nutrition," she said. "No teacher, no matter how talented, can make up for those lost hours of mental nourishment."

It is not too late to help young children prepare for school although the clock is ticking. There is still time to encourage and help early elementary students be ready for the new school year.

Elementary teachers are passionate about getting books into the hands of kids and they need help from parents, grandparents and the whole community.

After a busy and hectic day, reading to your child is the perfect way to slow the world down and connect with them. Research from both Parent Magazine and Healthline point out that "Kids feel secure when they're read to."

Mohr, who is in her 37th year of teaching elementary students, said, "You can tell who has been read to. They say, 'Oh, I have that story at home.' They listen, they ask questions, and want to go back to previous pages and discuss."

Kimball first-grade teacher Rachel Lashmett said: "Children that are read to are given some great skills. Parents help them with comprehension and learning new vocabulary. Research has linked babies that are read to and talked to have higher scores in cognitive and language skills and those skills extend into the teen years."

Some parents think it should be the responsibility of the school to teach their child to read, but according to Potter-Dix first grade teacher Pam Haack, "When they come into school and are able to focus and have the ability to listen, those are the learners. They are already aware of words, letters, colors, numbers, and they can learn."

They are more prepared to sit still and have a longer attention span, and have developed their memory-retention skills.

In addition to bonding, listening, cognitive and language development, expanded vocabulary, and better attention span, children who are read to develop vivid imaginations, learn life lessons, and cope better with social and emotional situations.

With a less than a month before school, Lashmett explains, "Parents can help their young ones by reading to them. Even a couple of minutes a day can be helpful. In first grade, we work a lot on sounds of individual letter combinations, and continuing this practice at home would only benefit the child."

Many communities and libraries have reading programs for children. Lashmet talked about a group reading program: "One thing I've seen before living in Kimball is a youth book club. The one I saw had students read a book together, then once they finished, they rented a movie projector, set it up in the park, and the community was able to come to watch it with the book club members. This could be done on a smaller scale with younger ones by having a reader/volunteers.

Haack encourages parents to play board games with kids providing them with exposure to words and numbers; this helps them get involved in reading.

Often parents will ask Mohr, "What program can I get, so the kids are quiet?" Mohr responds, "They need interaction with parents."

Technology is not the answer. Mohr has some helpful hints: "Read while the laundry is in the machine, hide the remote, read while dinner cooks, let the computer games cool, read in the morning, read at noon, read under the Goodnight Moon. Turn the pages together, sit as close as you'll fit, 'til a small voice besides you says, 'Hey don't quit.' "

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