After years of teaching children in elementary and middle school, I have found that families can help their children in two very easy ways: by talking and reading with them.
- Talking with your child. Most children learn vocabulary from speaking first, so use real words and talk about everything from the groceries you buy to the cars on the street.
- Reading with your child. This will be quality time well spent with your child. Also, when your child is old enough to read, make sure they do so for 20 minutes every day. According to education researchers W.E. Nagy & P.A. Herman, reading 20 minutes a day greatly impacts children’s vocabulary, their time engaged with written words, and improves their results on standardized tests.
“Babies are not empty vessels; babies are explorers and discoverers, looking for patterns in everything they hear,” says Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow at Temple University. Researchers also believe that there are six basic principles to help develop language.
- Children learn what they hear most–frequency matters.
- Children learn words for things and events that interest them.
- Interactive and responsive environments build language learning.
- Children learn best in a meaningful context.
- Children need to hear diverse examples of words and language structures.
- Vocabulary and grammar develop together.
This is why at AmeriSchools Academy, we want every student to be lifelong learners who are able to problem-solve and use flexible thinking to overcome negative circumstances. In order to refine these skills, students need to be able to read, listen carefully, understand and think deeply, and make connections that are inclusive of diverse viewpoints.
Every year, AmeriSchools Academy Camelback, Country Club, North and Yuma, participates in a competition to see how many of our students can read for 20 minutes for 20 days per month. The district has a traveling Reading Award that is presented to the winning campus. Last year, our Yuma North campus won the 2015-2016 Reading Award for having the highest percentage of student participation with 75 percent.
In August, our Yuma South Campus earned the Reading Award. Now take a look at your campus and see if your school has a bronze cup and won the award for the month. And if they don’t, encourage them to start participating. Congratulations to our Yuma South Campus. Well done!