Nov. 18, 2022 – Educators say it’s no different than riding a bike, playing basketball, or mastering a new skill.
“The more you do it, the more you practice, the better you get,” says Alicia Henderson, a Secondary Reading Curriculum and Instructional Specialist with the district.
Henderson is speaking to the importance of students making time to read on their own, outside of school. And like other Team Duval educators, she points to research as an indicator of how just 20 minutes a day can transform a student’s life.
According to studies:
- Students who read, or are read to, 20 minutes a day over the course of the school year will be exposed to 1.8 million words, and will likely score better than 90% of their peers on standardized tests.
- Students who read five minutes a day will be exposed to 282,000 words and score better than 50% of their peers.
- Students who read just one-minute a day will be exposed to 8,000 words, and score better than 10% of their peers.
Experts say strong literacy skills are also connected to employment, earning potential, and a healthier lifestyle. So how can parents help boost their children’s literacy skills?
“By reading at home,” says Eileen Swetnam, a K-2 Reading Specialist. “Adding to the reading they’re doing at school, getting them to read at their interest level…it’s a really important piece of the puzzle and will really give your students a leg up.”
In a Parent Academy Course geared toward supporting K-2 readers, Swetnam encourages parents to help their children choose books that they enjoy. She says the reading level of the book should not be the primary consideration. Rather, parents should focus on books that are fun, engaging, and interesting.
Most importantly, Swetnam says children should be choosing their own book or text – not parents.
“If we can find books that our children enjoy, they will in turn love to read,” she says.
For less experienced readers, Swetnam says being read to is just as effective in terms of exposure and gaining important skills. If parents are struggling to find time to read to their children, she suggests websites like Storyline Online, which features a wide variety of celebrities and other public figures reading books to children.
Educators also encourage parents to seek out stories that reflect what students have felt themselves. For instance, books about students moving to a new city, facing feelings of loneliness, or even losing a tooth can keep students interested and engaged.
Parents looking to strengthen their child’s reading skills can also implement these practical tips:
- Involve your student in cooking. Recipes include key literary themes and elements such as a sequenced story and cause and effect
- Have your child read the menu when eating out
- Take your child grocery shopping and have them read through the list, as well as products in the store.
- Support writing skills by encouraging students to journal, write notes, or record daily events.
Swetnam also points parents to the physical and digital resources available for free through the Jacksonville Public Library. Duval County Public Schools students can begin accessing materials by providing their Student ID number.
In the end, Swetnam says as students grow in their love of reading, the results will be undeniable.
“The more well-read they are, and the more they know about different topics, the better they will be able to perform in school.”
For additional tips in supporting grade 6-12 readers, parents can view this Parent Academy Course.