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Cultivate a Love of Reading in Children

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reading joyIn the early childhood world there has been a lot of talk and concern expressed about the “pushdown” of academics into kindergarten and even preschool. And the Common Core kindergarten reading requirements have sparked outrage – particularly the standard stating that every child should be able to read by the end of kindergarten.

Standards such as these make it clear that the people devising them do not understand child development. Moreover, such standards, to my way of thinking, provide the best route to a resentment of reading. Ask children to do something before they’re ready and the end result will not be a love of the activity forced on them.

Nancy Bailey, an educator who left teaching because of the current “reforms,” stated it beautifully when she wrote:

While kindergarten is now the new 1stgrade, in 10 more years will kindergarten be the next 2nd or 3rd grade? When will the current reformers be satisfied? When will they quit demeaning children and making them jump through inappropriate developmental hoops?

Enough is enough! Let children be children. Let them be their age. Bring back the joy of learning to read.

Her article, “Setting Children Up to Hate Reading,” lists 10 problems associated with the insistence that every kindergartner read. It’s an excellent piece, which you can find by clicking here.

So, how do we inspire a love of reading in children? Anyone who has ever lived or worked with young children knows that they want to read. It’s a wonderful mystery waiting to be solved! And if children are allowed to solve it at their own pace – while surrounded by people who are enthusiastic about reading and its natural process – a love of reading simply follows.

But for more detailed suggestions, I recommend “Steps for Cultivating a Love of Reading in Young Children,” an interview with psychology professor Daniel Willingham, whose most recent book is Raising Kids Who Read. (Educator Dan Brown calls this book “the best evidence-based new resource I've seen on what parents and teachers can actually do about [the dwindling love of reading in kids].”)

I wanted to hear more about what Daniel had to say, so I invited him to join me, along with Dan Brown and Marcy Guddemi, executive director of the Gesell Institute of Child Development, in a discussion for Studentcentricity. You can listen to “Are You Teaching Kids to Read or to Love Reading?” by clicking here.

For additional information on the topic, check out the following articles:

“Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love of Reading”: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/5-tips-foster-love-reading-lisa-dabbs

“Ten Ways to Cultivate a Love of Reading in Students”: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/cultivating-love-reading-students-elena-aguilar

“What Motivates a Student’s Interest in Reading and Writing”: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/18/what-motivates-students-interest-in-reading-and-writing/

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Rae Pica has been an education consultant specializing in the development and education of the whole child, children's physical activity, and active learning since 1980. A former adjunct instructor with the University of New Hampshire, she is the author of 19 books, including the text Experiences in Movement and Music and, most recently, What If Everybody Understood Child Development?: Straight Talk About Bettering Education and Children's Lives. Rae has shared her expertise with such groups as the Sesame Street Research Department, the Head Start Bureau, Centers for Disease Control, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues, Gymboree, Nike, and state health departments throughout the country. She is a member of the executive committee of the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences and is co-founder of BAM Radio Network, where she hosts Studentcentricity, interviewing experts in education, child development, play research, the neurosciences, and more on teaching with students at the center.

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Guest Sunday, 23 October 2016