6 Reasons Why Your Child Needs 20 Minutes of Reading

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Every school parent has heard it before - the advice that we should have our children read for twenty minutes a day.  Yet, much like the other good advice (think regular exercise, drink more water, get enough sleep) we may try to make reading a regular habit for our kids, but then we lose our resolve and don't make the habit stick.  Looking for reasons to stay motivated?  Here they are:

1.  Teachers Swear They Know Which Kids Read Regularly

I have spoken with a lot of teachers, and I hear over and over again from teachers that they can tell which kids read or are read to at home and which ones are not.  These teachers aren't just basing this off of reading logs they assign, but how these kids approach reading and the children's vocabulary.  These teachers notice when a child has their favorite types of reading materials, and children who don't know what is available to them.  Teachers notice the increased vocabulary from children who read regularly.  Children who struggle with reading improve both in attitude and skill with regular appropriate reading time. 

2. Mathematically Twenty Minutes of Reading Really Adds Up

If child A reads twenty minutes a day for six nights a week, that is 120 minutes, or two hours a week.  If our child B reads only five minutes a day for four nights a week, that is twenty minutes a week. In one school year, child A will have read for 72 hours while child B will have read for only twelve hours.

  If this continues on over summer break child A will read 104 hours in one year while child B will have read for just over 17 hours.  Child A clearly will have gained greater reading skills than child B from all of that practice.

3. What You Do Shows Your Children What Really Matters

When you make sure that your children read for twenty minutes a day, you let them know how important reading really is.

  Your attitude shows through in your actions, not just your words.  Making sure that your child knows that reading must be done every day is the best way you can let your child know how important reading is.  Find time by limiting tv and electronic time and instead have reading time.  You can also make sure that any child care providers you use have access to reading material and encourage reading while your child is in their care.

4.  Expose Your Children to Greater Vocabulary

There is a huge variety of words to be found in books, even children's early reader books.  The pictures and combined vocabulary teach new words, they may not hear in their daily lives.  An important reading study by Anderson, Wilson and Fielding from 1988 showed that children who read for at least 15 minutes outside of school will expose children to over a million words of text.  Many of those words will be new words that grow your child's vocabulary.

5.  Reading Is Everywhere 

Many adults often think of fiction chapter books when they think of reading.

  This is because many of today's parents read fiction chapter books for their free reading time while growing up.   Reading in the adult world often includes technical training manuals for work, recipes or instruction manuals for home projects, understanding complicated texts for voting, and other highly skilled non fiction reading tasks.  Today's educator's have gotten savvy to the fact that reading includes fiction and much more.  The new common core standards include a focus on non-fiction material as well as fiction.  Making sure that your child reads a variety of materials that they are interested in will build the reading skills your child will need for school and eventually for the adult world.

6. Keep Your Older Children Reading

Several studies have shown a decline in time spent on independent reading once children reach middle school.  Middle school age students tend to gravitate toward other activities, like electronic media or sports activities.  Reading skills are still developing and improving throughout the middle and high school years.  If your child developed strong reading skills during elementary school, they are more likely to want to read independently in middle and high school.  If they did not develop strong skills by middle school, the daily reading habit can help them to catch up to grade level.  Still, if your child is reading at grade level, continuing the reading habit throughout the higher grades will help your child develop the advanced reading skills they will need at school and into their adult lives.

Reading is a keystone piece of your child's education.  Reading for twenty minutes a day will give your child the reading experience they need to be strong and successful readers.

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