According to several studies over the years by, among others, the National Institute for Literacy, when parents or other family members frequently read to children entering kindergarten, those children were at a distinct advantage over children whose families read to them less often.
Seems like a no-brainer, right?
The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study found that “Children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading than children who were read to less than three times a week.” The study also found that, of children who were read to at least three times a week:
- 76 percent had mastered the letter-sound relationship at the beginning of words, compared to 64 percent of children who were read to fewer than three times a week.
- 57 percent had mastered the letter-sound relationship at the end of words, compared to 43 percent who were read to fewer than three times a week.
- 15 percent had sight- word recognition skills, compared to 8 percent who were read to fewer than three times a week, and
- 5 percent could understand words in context, compared to 2 percent who were read to fewer than three times a week.
The positive impact of parental involvement in learning doesn’t end with kindergarten. As children get older, and the kinds of subjects and learning styles that are addressed at school change, children benefit greatly from having parents engage in critical discussion and analysis with them regarding what they have been learning at school. Not only does this reinforce (through repetition) what the child has learned, but it also helps the child gain various insights that might be different to those of their classroom teacher or their classmates.
According to the National Education Association USA, parental involvement in learning is crucial. As evidence, they cite the following findings of research into parental involvement:
- When parents are involved in their children’s education at home, they do better in school.
- And when parents are involved in school, children go farther in school – and the schools they go to are better.
- The family makes critical contributions to student achievement from preschool through high school.
- A home environment that encourages learning is more important to student achievement than income, education level or cultural background.
- Reading achievement is more dependent on learning activities in the home than in math or science.
- Reading aloud to children is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading success. Talking to children about books and stories read to them also supports reading achievement.
- When children and parents talk regularly about school, children perform better academically.
- Three kinds of parental involvement at home are consistently associated with higher student achievement: actively organizing and monitoring a child’s time, helping with homework and discussing school matters.
- The earlier the parent involvement begins in a child’s educational process, the more powerful the effects.
- Positive results of parental involvement include improved student achievement, reduced absenteeism, improved behavior, and restored confidence among parents in their children’s schooling.
Even if, as a parent, you feel you have little to contribute on a particular subject area: sometimes just being interested is enough to give the child a chance to express their differing viewpoints or critically analyse a topic without the same