Albert Einstein once said, if you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales, if you want them to be more intelligent read them more fairy tales.
It is one of the most important and crucial elements of a child’s education. Reading is essential for a student to become successful in school and in their journey through life.
Most of the learning is done from reading books, the better a child can read the easier it becomes for them to learn what they need in school.
Before we can discuss everything you may need as an educator to improve your students reading skills, I want to share my emphasis on the benefits a student has from reading.
Reading Assists Cognitive Development:
Cognitive development refers to how we perceive and think about our world in reference to our intelligence, reasoning, language development, and information processing. By reading to children, you provide them with a deep understanding about their world and fill their brains with background knowledge. They then use this acquired background knowledge to make sense of what they see, hear, and read, which aids their cognitive development.
It Develops Empathy:
When we read a book, we put ourselves in the story in front of us. This allows us to develop empathy as we experience the lives of other characters and can identify with how they are feeling. Children can then use this understanding to empathize in the real world with other people. Additionally, children will gain a greater understanding of emotions, which can help them understand their own emotions and those of others. This helps dramatically with their social development.
Reading Helps Gain Deeper Understanding:
A book can take us anywhere: to another city, to a different country, or even to an alternative world. By reading a book, a child learns about people, places, and events that they couldn’t learn otherwise. This gives children a deeper understanding of the world around them and cultures that are different from their own.
Reading Assists Building Stronger Relationships:
If a parent reads with a child on a regular basis, then they will undoubtedly develop a stronger relationship with them. Reading provides parents with an opportunity to have a regular and shared event that both parent and child can look forward to. Furthermore, it provides children with feelings of attention, love, and reassurance which is key for nurturing and wellbeing.
Reading Gives Higher Levels of Creativity and Imagination.
Reading a book relies on us using our imagination for picturing characters, visualizing their settings and environment, and guessing what’s coming next. We must use our imagination if we are to learn about other people, places, events, and times. In turn, this developed imagination leads to greater creativity as children use the ideas in their heads to inform their work.
How can you ensure your students understand classroom coursework? Build reading skills. Teachers love to share their favorite stories and the subjects they are passionate about, but helping a child develop the same interest requires foundational reading skills to comprehend and enjoy the curriculum.
Many children see reading as a chore, especially if it’s tied to lesson plans and learning complex information. Teachers, parents, and mentors can help ignite a child’s passion to read by incorporating activities focused on building reading skills to improve comprehension and engagement.
Coming up next are some of the most useful tips that will allow you to help your student become a better reader.
- Annotate and highlight text
Teach your students to highlight and underline valuable information as they read. Have students write notes on the pages they are reading to help them stay focused and improve comprehension. Students can also write down questions as they read to receive more explanation on a new concept or to define a new word.
- Personalize the content
Students can increase their understanding by seeing how the material connects with their life. Have your students make personal connections with the text by writing it down on the page. You can also help students comprehend the text by helping them see an association with current events.
- Practice problem solving skills
Blend real-world problem-solving skills into your curriculum. Have your students write out solutions to the problem and discuss their ideas as a class or in small groups.
- Incorporate more senses
Add in activities that reinforce learning and comprehension by using more senses as they read. Remind students to read with a pen or pencil to annotate the text. Have your students take turns reading out loud. Use projectors to guide your lesson and write down questions for those who are visual learners.
- Understand common themes
Ask your students to look for examples of a certain theme throughout the chapter to increase engagement. Have students share their findings with the class to help students learn a specific theme more in-depth.
- Set reading goals
Have each student set their own reading goals. This can help them take action in building reading skills and students will be more mindful of how they are improving.
- Read in portions
Long, complex reading can be more digestible by breaking it up into pieces, or chucks. Shorter segments will help students retain the information as the class discusses the materials. It can also help students build confidence in understanding a complex subject.
- Let students guide their reading
Your students process reading material and curriculum in very different ways. As you implement reading activities to help your class learn complex materials, you will learn what works best for each student individually.
As teachers implement more reading activities into classroom coursework, students will find improvement in vocabulary, writing skills, problem solving, concentration, and cognitive development to help build a solid foundation for future learning.
- Utilize various reading materials
Be creative by teaching reading through different formats. Books, magazines, books on tape, CDs, and other recorded reading can give students multiple ways to connect with the material. Have students practice reading along with an audio book. They will gain experience seeing the words on the printed page while hearing them on the recording. Other technologies, such as text-to-speech software, can refocus a reading exercise into one where students can pay attention to the sentence structure and words without getting discouraged by their own comprehension.
- Relate reading to other areas of the student’s life
Encourage your students to read selected material and then discuss it in relation to other books, movies, news items, or TV shows. Have your students make the comparison: What did they like about how each format portrayed the topic? How would they have changed a format to better match the topic? What was the message the writers intended the reader/observer to get from the material? Being able to connect what has been read to something else in their lives helps students think abstractly about the material.
- Have fun with words
As students work on their reading assignments, ask them to write words or phrases down that they don’t understand and bring them to class on an index card. You can then conduct a classroom discussion on the words until everyone understands the various meanings and uses. Additionally, students can then put their cards up on a wall creating a record of challenging language they have mastered. Depending on the type and format of the classroom, these cards could be used for subsequent writing classes to help students further develop their vocabulary.
- Create a record of progress
Help students create a journal of their reading work. Have them list the reading they have done and a brief summary of the material. Make a section of challenging words or phrases; another section can be used for passages they don’t readily understand. Finish with the students’ opinion of the material, likes, dislikes, and whether they would read more from this author. Review these journals with the students regularly and celebrate their progress with them. Use the journals at parent-teacher conferences so the parents can also see the progress.
- Make reading about communication—not just a tool
Prepare several lessons where students read a number of different written materials: grocery store ads; instructions on how to put together a bookcase; a recipe; a newspaper article; part of your state’s driver education handbook—all great examples. Start a discussion on how important it is to be able to read these items accurately and understand them. In each case, ask: what is the important information being conveyed? Where might students encounter the material currently in their lives? These real-world examples help students understand the long-term importance of quality reading skills and comprehension.