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Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Book

I have one child that is in elementary school.  This child is intelligent (did you expect me to say anything else???), but I noticed that this child was having trouble with math.  This is hard for me to wrap my head around — I admit that freely.  I’m a math nerd.  In fact, I’m just a few credit hours away from a major in math, if that gives you a clue.  Trust me when I tell you that I was NOT the ideal choice to step in as the tutor.  Math is something that was fairly easy for me to grasp (until Calculus III and Partial Differential Equations), and I didn’t have the patience to move through the areas where my child needed help.

Seeking information, I sat and talked to one of my neighbors (a teacher) for over an hour about the situation.  I shared my frustrations.  She listened.  I asked for help, fully expecting to hear things about flash cards and practice tests.  Instead, this was the first bit of advice my neighbor offered:

“Read out loud with your child for 30 minutes every night.  Take turns reading pages if that’s what you have to do to get started, but start reading out loud and see where it takes you.”

huh?

My child is having problems with math, and you want me to read?  And where am I going to find another 30 minutes in my day to do this?

I figured it couldn’t hurt.  My child spent some time most days reading silently.  Part of me took this as a challenge.  I doubted.  How could reading out loud help? 

But it has…. and very quickly, I might add.  My child took to the activity quickly.  I thought I would have to dig in my heels to get to 30 minutes.  To my surprise, my child didn’t want to stop.  It is not unusual for us to read together for 40-45 minutes. 

I’ve seen my child’s math grades — and confidence — increase significantly in just a few short weeks.  And the complaining about different things (and people) at school has decreased quite a bit.  It is no longer like pulling teeth to find out something good that happened during the day.  Actually, all of the grades have come up.  I’m not the only one to see positive changes.  My child’s teacher told me that my child has been much calmer and more attentive in class.

My child’s teacher told me that there are all kinds of studies out there that document these results.  Could it be that my child needed that interaction with me on so many different levels?  Maybe my child understands a little better that I am an advocate, and that I have their best interests at heart.  Perhaps this activity nurtures my child on a different level… a level that may be so much more important as we approach the teen years. 

One of the sweeter surprises for me in this is how much I’m enjoying the books, too.  Years of diapers, nursing, and lack of sleep put my joy of reading on the back burner.  This activity lets me share one of my joys with my child.  We talk about the characters and what we would do if we were in the same situation.  We talk about what we think will happen next in the book.  It opens up opportunities for us to talk about other things that are important.

I know that we’ve all probably watched a little more TV than usual with the Olympics airing over the past couple of weeks.  They will end in a few days.  My suggestion to you is to pick out a book with your child and start reading it together.

You never know what will happen… it just might become a great new habit.

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One Comment (Add Yours)

  1. I love this post!!! Thanks for the much needed reminder and I didn't realize it could make a difference in their other classes. Definitey something I will work on!!!

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