I have a confession to make.
For the first 3 years of my daughter's life, she watched youtube.com.
(More on this in a minute).
Right now, my life is comprised almost entirely of chasing, cleaning up after, and generally surviving the crazy storm that is my toddler.
But through all her general naughtiness and haphazard disregard for her own safety, I am also watching her open up and explore the world and people around her everyday.
For every twenty minutes of tomato sauce and kitty litter this little gal can throw at me, it is worth it for just the one minute of watching her squeal with delight at something as simple as discovering a snail crawling up our fence.
Still and all, I feel crazed these days.
I run from one place to another to another, always late and always frazzled, and I only have one child!
Enter Reading Head Start "Supermom"
I look at my friend Michelle – she has three kids, and a full time job in the city. When she comes home, she does a quick reading lesson with her kids and cooks dinner for her family.
That’s right, she teaches her kids to read and cooks dinner for her family.
Way to make the rest of us look bad, MICHELLE.
I have one child, work from home two days a week and dinner is this thing I like to pull out of the freezer and microwave.
Michelle has been teaching her kids to read in her "spare time". And you know what?
The results I saw from it motivated me to do the same.
Large Twin Study Finds That Giving Your Child A Head Start In Reading Leads To Increased Intelligence
A recent study looked at almost 2,000 sets of identical twins, examining intelligence throughout their childhood.
It found that differences in reading between the twins were linked to later differences in intelligence.
- 1,890 monozygotic twin pairs
- They were born between January 1994 and December 1996
- All raised in the same families
The cool thing was, when the last to bullets above are considered TOGETHER, they allow the researchers to completely rule out genetic AND environmental effects on their study.
The study concluded:
Twins with better earlier reading ability compared to their identical co-twin tended not only to have higher scores on general intelligence tests. In other words, reading may, over time, improve general intelligence.
You see, the wonderful thing about reading is that it is correlated with a remarkable upward spiral advantage in children.
We see this, not only in the study, but also in our everyday life.
The fact is, children who read at an early age radically increase their prospects for success, both in school and ultimately in life.
I've personally seen a direct link to my daughter getting her first "A" in her report card, and a noticeable increase in her confidence, from the simple skill of her learning to read. Giving her a reading head start was changing everything about her.
Another study by The Guardian Newspaper had similar findings:
There is evidence that reading can increase levels of all three major categories of intelligence.”
The Negative Side Of Lack Of Reading
Unfortunately, the ugly side of it, is that non-readers will experience a negative downward spiral.
Did you know that 38% of all 4th grade students can't even achieve a basic reading proficiency?
It's true, and it's so unfortunate, because kids who read go on to have huge advantages in life, and those who don't, well, don't.
(Sociologists have a name for this, it's called the "Matthew Effect:" the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, when it comes to reading.)
As I researched about the importance of reading, I was amazed at what I discovered.
A Yale University study recently concluded that 75% of children who reach 3rd grade with poor literacy become completely illiterate in adulthood!
You don't want your child to start down that path, because in most cases, statistically, it's irreversible.
I realized that I wasn't doing my daughter any favors by having her watch youtube all day. So I decided to change my approach and make a concerted effort to limit my child's screen time and be proactive about her reading.
And it made all the difference.
I Decided I Would Let Go Of My "Mom Guilt"
You see, in the relatively short time that I have been a mom, I have come to the realization that being a mom is a hundred thousand times harder than most desk jobs.
At least my previous desk jobs.
There are those days you just need a break!
So give yourself a break! And don't think twice about it.
But the next day, go back to helping your child with their reading. You will be happy you did.
4 Powerful Tips To Get Your Child To Read Like A Pro
I want to share with you a few tips that you can put into action today that can give your child a head start in reading.
- Tip #1: Incentivize Your Child To Read
My daughter love sweets (shocker). Well, if she wants some candy or chocolate, I usually say "ok." But, I remind her that we're going to be reading together later. She's so happy to get the candy, she has no problem with that! Interesting thing is, when it's time to read, she's totally up for it.
Is it a blatant bribe? Yes.
I think there's a reciprocal thing going on there in her mind, that just works.
And I'm ok with that. After a while, she stopped needing to be "bribed". She just wanted to read; she developed a love for it.
- Tip #2: When teaching your child the alphabet, teach them the letters AND sounds together
Studies have shown when kids are taught the letter names and letter sounds together, there is an exponential effect on retention.
Have your child trace letters and say the sounds as they are doing it. For example, if you were teaching your child the letter "G", you would say:
"G" makes the <ggg> sound (as she traces with her index finger).
- Tip #3: Remember to reinforce that letters should be sounded out from left to right, and top to bottom
This sounds intuitive to us adults. BUT for a child, it's a foreign concept.
This simple tip is something to keep in the back of your mind.
- Tip #4: Teach words that rhyme, together
This is so simple and so powerful, in my experience.
When teaching the word "dog", run down the list of words that rhyme:
Then move into slightly bigger words like:
The Key To Your Child's Success
As parents, WE are the key to our child's success.
I believe you can't simply leave your child's education up to the school system. Supplementing my daughter's learning and providing a strong support system is key to success.
I've found that you really only need to devote a few short minutes a day to see big time results.
For me, the very act of helping my daughter to read, even if it was for 5 minutes per day, has made me feel a deep joy and sense of fulfillment.
Fast forward a few months, and it fills me with a great sense of pride to hear her reading full sentences now, and getting so much joy out of it.
Michelle, You really ARE supermom 🙂
Sure, Michelle probably showered and dressed fashionably this morning and I’m still in my pajamas from yesterday (it’s 11pm so it makes sense to stay in them one more night).
And sure, I cringe when I think about how perfect you are, Dear Michelle! But that's fine, we all move at our own pace.
(Side note: I asked Michelle how she does it all, and here is what she said):
If I were trying to impress, I would say that I am extremely organized and never stop moving. If I were honest, I would point out that there is a lot that I do drop.
I don’t work out AT ALL, my house only gets cleaned by the housekeeper every other week (and then is back to a disaster an hour later). I still have not ordered the blinds for the living room that I have had on my to do list for three years, and I haven’t put away the kids clothes that they have grown out of in the past year.
When I started this process, I was filled with uncertainty. But what I have come to understand is that young children are far smarter and far more adaptive than we adults give them credit for.
Oh, one final thought: whatever you do, don't doubt yourself. I'm here to tell you that YOU will always be the BEST teacher for your child!
And there you have it.
Michelle doesn’t do it all, she can’t, and no one can!
I must say it makes me feel a little bit better to know that I am not alone in my feelings of uncertainty. Hopefully this blog post has had the same effect on you.
I will wholeheartedly agree that when teaching your child to read, do not doubt yourself; do not doubt your abilities to teach your child; and do not doubt the ability of your child to learn.
It still amazes me that all kids have an amazing aptitude for absorbing and assimilating new information.
Give it a try, and I think you will agree with me too!
Thanks for reading this post.
P.S. If you're curious about how Michelle & I taught our kids to read, you can learn more about the program by clicking here .
Here is a cool infographic I found about reading habits that lead to success.
Here is a cool infographic I found about reading habits that lead to success.
Courtesy of: http://www.freshessays.com