Last updated: September 09. 2013 1:54PM - 52 Views

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Reading is one of the most basic things we teach our children, yet it is the single most important attribute they will ever possess.

There is no job or task that can be effectively accomplished without the ability to read the written word. However, it is the one area that parents have become the most lackadaisical when it comes to developing a higher level of reading comprehension.

Not all schools are the same in their expectations of children entering kindergarten, but there are certain areas that are common to most. Prerequisites generally state that children should be able to:

• Read their name.

• Recite the alphabet.

• Recognize some or all of the letters in the alphabet.

• Correspond all or some of the letters with their correct sound.

• Make rhymes.

• Hold a book right side up, in correct reading manner.

• Recognize that the progression of text is from left to right, top to bottom.

• Echo simple text that is read to them.

• Recognize that text holds meaning.

• Re-tell a favorite story.

Each child learns at a different pace. My daughter, Devin, caught on so quickly that we believed her to be of genius status by age 4. We later understood that her ability to read and retain information, although a true blessing, by no means guaranteed that a genius would thereby ascend. If you see her, keep that information to yourself, please.

My son, Ryan, on the other hand, took his sweet time. In fact, it took so long that I began to wonder if he might possess a true disability such as dyslexia, developmental dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia or some other really bad thing that I could find through my endless scouring of the Internet.

As it happens, Ryan was just a lazy reader. He didn’t want to take the time to learn the written word when it was so much easier for me to read to him.

It took much trial and error to help Ryan through the torment of reading. By sixth grade, we were still locking horns, but I stuck to my guns and read with him every night. I would read a couple of pages and he would read a couple. We would repeat the cycle until his reading was complete and then discuss the content of what we had read.

In Ryan’s case, the trick was to find reading material that was interesting to him. He had to learn how to enjoy learning.

Reviewing our national reading scores has left me alarmed. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 68 percent of Missouri children tested in fourth and eighth grades were reading at basic or below federal proficiency standards. Does that shock you?

Once we catch our breath, the first thing we generally ask is who to blame.

Up to sixth grade, reading is highly stressed in Missouri public schools. However, teaching children to read cannot fill the entire curriculum during the school day. At some point, our teachers must begin to teach depth of knowledge based on proficient reading capabilities. In other words, educators need fundamental reading skills intact in order to be successful in teaching other subjects.

Parents must be more pro-active in making sure that reading is stressed in the home as much as possible. It is an imperative task if we wish to provide an atmosphere that will allow our children to achieve their dreams.

I know how hard it is to come home from work, fix dinner, do dishes and laundry, feed the pets and then begin the task of checking homework and reading with children. It becomes monotonous after the second week of school.

Let me assure you that this time in life is brief. It may seem as though it will never end, but it does. And when it ends, let’s be certain that we have provided one of life’s most basic necessities to our children.

There are many ways to incorporate reading into daily activities. Although multi-tasking is often stressful, it can be your best friend when encouraging kids to read.

I used to ask my children to choose a short book, newspaper or magazine article to read at the kitchen table while I started dinner. Devin would read first while Ryan and I listened. When Devin was finished, Ryan would read his selection. After they each had their turn, we discussed what they had learned.

When they were done reading, they set the table and helped finish preparing dinner. Often, I would ask them to read cooking instructions on the package of whatever we were fixing. They would tell me at what temperature to set the oven, how to arrange the food, how long it took to bake, etc.

This made reading more interesting and taught the children that words have meaning and value, just like them!

Please take time to read with your children. It is so very important, not only to our children, but to society as a whole.

Have a great week!

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