By Christina Forgeron, Columnist
Learning Lag: Learning lag occurs when there is an interruption to the regular time dedicated towards learning and reinforcement of learning. In the last year or so, parents around the world have expressed concerns about learning lag due to online learning challenges and school closures caused by the pandemic.
If you are feeling concerned about your child’s academic development, then, first of all, you are on the right track – it matters. But secondly, there is something you can do – something so powerful that this one thing actually gives your child a leg up when it comes to long-term success. It is something you are actually naturally doing right at this very moment – reading. I can’t overstate its importance.
There are two kinds of reading that children do – reading for practice and reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is the goal…it’s the kind of reading that is chosen. But reading for practice is a very important steppingstone.
Reading for Practice: The education system is focused on building literacy. A lot of time is spent on the skills and tools required to be able to read in early education and the results of this are clear. “In 1820, less than 20% of the world’s population was literate… Nowadays, levels of literacy are close to 100% almost everywhere…” We are doing some things right in education.
Each day, children across this lovely little city arrive home with a book in their bag that they have to read. Struggling readers need courage to do their reading each day. But they can do it. Here are some ways to make reading practice successful:
• Sit next to or nearby your child with your own book (cookbook, magazine, newspaper…hard copy of something to read). It’s reading time.
• Have your child set a little goal before reading (the whole book, 3 pages, 10 minutes, a chapter, as per teacher suggestions).
• Understand that this is your child’s journey into reading. Much like learning piano or karate, they will improve if they practice but they have to feel ownership over the process.
• Avoid overpraising but support their effort.
• If they are struggling, suggest they reduce the reading goal and focus on one paragraph or page.
• Avoid overcorrection.
• Communicate regularly with their teacher about their successes and/or specific challenges.
• Trust that it will come.
• Believe in its importance.
*If your child continually struggles with reading despite regular and consistent practice, be sure to alert their teacher and/or request an assessment. Knowledge is power and understanding the nature of your child’s reading challenge allows you to find suitable solutions.
Next month, I will look at an even more powerful type of reading for children – reading for pleasure. In the meantime, reconnect with books in your life if it’s been a while. Get lost in a story or a recipe collection or how to invest in the stock exchange… whatever your interest, grab a book to foster it!