Last year I taught the last kiddo of a family going through the system. I had taught two of the older brothers in previous years. As you know, while siblings may share family characteristics, they are quite different kiddos. This includes what kiddos share aout their lives. Each year I taught one of these kiddos I learned something new about the family, and last year was no exception. Early on in the school when we were chatting about ways to increase our reading st home the youngest shared something her family does: family reading time.
One hour, each day regardless of location or occasion, is scheduled for the entire family to read. Each family member reads whatever they want. They are all in the same space, although some may be on the couch, in a chair, or sprawled on the floor. A few key things are expected of everyone during this time:
- Everyone is reading
- If you come across a part that strikes you, share it
- If you are confused about something you read, share it
I know that a lot of families already do this, but there are a few reasons why this is a powerful family time.
- It's a shared time, with a shared purpose.
- By sharing your thinking while reading, you are intriguing others about the book, encouraging family members to read it. This creates a shared topic and enriches the thinking about the text.
- Research shows that when kiddos see their fathers read, they are more likely to read. This is especially true for boys who determine what is valuable based on what the make models in their lives engage in.
- Research shows that it is the success of the mother that determines the education of the children. If mom sets expectations and models those behaviors, kiddos are more likely to engage int hose behaviors that lead to success.
- Kiddos who struggle with fluency engage in fluency practice. Yet, they are still capable of engaging in thoughtful conversations about texts.
- Kiddos who struggle with higher level reading compression are continuosuy witnessing others engage in it. They see & hear what higher level literacy looks like & sounds like, emerging them in a way of life, increasing their capabilities of doing the same.
- Becuase this is a family practice, the kiddos believe & understand the importance of literacy, thinking, and dialogue.
I have to say that the kiddos from this family were incredibly literate. Not oly did they read fluently, but their higher level reading comprehension was above those of their classmates. As a result their higher level thinking transferred to other content areas. I think it's moorland to note that this was an incredibly busy family. Dad was often on the road and mom has a pretty busy job as well. And the kiddos are quite active in extra-curricular activities, in addition to dedicating time each day to play and genuine inquiry (dad often engaged the kiddos in experiments based on their questions). Yet, they still made time EVERY DAY for reading, thinking aout trading, and talking about reading.