Kids prefer devices, games and gadgets to reading because techno toys are easy to use and provide instant fun. Reading, on the other hand, is hard work – especially for beginners, says reading expert Nancy Newman, author of "Raising Passionate Readers: 5 Easy Steps to Success in School and Life."
Learning to read is a long slow process that starts in infancy, says Newman, but if children get solid instruction in school and plenty of practice at home, they will soon be able to glance at words and decipher them in micro-seconds. Then reading becomes easy and fun — as relaxing and enjoyable as watching cartoons and playing video games.
Scientists have known for decades that parents play a key role in the reading process. In the 1980s, child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd Risley proved a correlation between the number and variety of words children hear and use at home, and their eventual reading ability and IQ. Other studies reported similar findings, like "Becoming a Nation of Readers," a 1985 study by the U.S. Commission on Reading; research published in 2013 by Stanford psychologist Anne Fernald; and just last month, Scholastic's 2015 Kids & Family Reading Report.
Tragically, says Newman, parents still don't understand that by doing a few simple things during the course of their everyday lives, even the busiest moms and dads can help their children become skilled enough to enjoy reading. Some of those no fuss, no muss things are talking, singing and rhyming with children; telling jokes and making up stories with them; reading aloud to them and talking about what they've read; asking and answering questions; and actively encouraging children to practice reading.
Study after study has also shown that making rules about technology use is a key way for parents to help children become readers. In 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that when parents put limits on technology consumption, its use by children dropped by almost three hours a day. As Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, "Oversaturation of electronic media has been matched, step for step, by overly permissive parenting. The job of parents is to give a child direction and set reasonable limits."
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SOURCE Nancy Newman
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