Words | Mary Ryan
‘Parental involvement in a child’s education begins at birth. Singing lullabies or cooing tender words introduces the world of language to an infant,’ (Hart, Betty and Todd R. Risley, 1995) And that is, according to the Program for International Student Achievement (PISA), just the beginning.
PISA are responsible for collecting the data that ranks educational outcomes across the world. They are part of The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) a forum of 34 democracies and more than 70 non-member economies, working together with each other to promote economic growth, prosperity, and sustainable development. Education is a pillar of economic growth, development and prosperity, hence their involvement in collecting educational data across the world.
In 2012 PISA examined the ‘Parent Factor in Education’ and the results showed
‘that some types of parental involvement when children are entering primary school are strongly associated with reading performance and even more with instilling a sense of enjoyment of reading in children. These types of involvement emphasise the value of reading and using words in contexts – such as reading books or talking about what the parent had done – rather than treating words and letters as isolated units – such as playing with alphabet toys.’
Most importantly they found that ‘by far the strongest relationship is between reading to a child during his/her early years and better reading performance when the child is 15.’
This shows that when parents and carers read to their children the impact is significant. For children to learn properly at school, their home environment must support it. Parents should read to their children, talk about the stories, the letters and the words in context, and have conversations about the books and relate those stories to the world in which they live.
Listening to stories stimulates the creative mind, builds vocabulary and comprehension, and models fluency, all vital components of learning to read. Retaining those stories develops concentration and the working memory. Furthermore, storytime allows for family time that is engaged and full of emotion as we journey with characters. I have never known a child, not even the most behaviourally challenged, who doesn’t stop and listen to a well read or well told tale.
Maya Angelou once said,‘people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’Stories make us feel good. They help us to understand the world. In this National Families Week let’s commit to spending quality time together with books, creating rich family time and ensuring educational benefits for our children.
You can find Mary on Facebook at Teacher at the Gate a place where expert teachers partner with parents to better understanding their children’s journey through school.