While my friends and I were driving and discussing Waiting for Superman (which is the basic, “go-to reference” for any education-related conversation) one friend interrupted us with, “Wait, so Waiting for Superman has nothing to do with Superman?” 🙂
That conversation reminded me of this article that I’ve been meaning to share for a while now. Now, almost half a year later, I found it, and even though it’s old, it’s good and still very applicable!
In this article, Dr. Gabrielle Miller argues that even though a dying school system can make parents feel helpless, parents are still arguably the most powerful presence in their children’s lives. And this power, beginning at home, is not just a “feel-good” power, but strongly affects academic achievement!
Studies showed that developing the habit of sharing books with your child at a young age can drastically improve their lives and how children from lower-income families enter schools severely behind since their families have less access to print materials and less time to expose their children to them. Yet there are resources available; and despite difficulties, there are people who have risen above the barriers to bridge this gap (see the article for more information in this area).
As I work with both elementary school students and high school students, I totally see this happening. I see first graders already developing an aversion to checking out books because they can’t read the titles. I see high school students unable to get far in any of their subjects because they just can’t read and comprehend in a manner that is both timely and effective and enables them to finish their homework in time. It’s sad.
My mom immersed me in both English and Korean books when I was little. I was blessed to have a first grade teacher who took me (and a few other students) aside a few times a week after school to read with us. (I used to think it was because I was so smart, but I think, considering how I didn’t know a lick of English in Kindergarten, it was probably because we were behind). I had a third grade teacher who read books in adorable accents and introduced the class to Roald Dahl. I had a sixth grade teacher who challenged me to take it to the next level and begin reading news articles and classics. Seriously, I got through high school not because I understood the concepts (I was really slow), but because I was a fast reader and managed to supplement what i didn’t know by reading the chapters in my textbook.
I believe that the reason why I can communicate relatively easily is because I had books, growing up. Reading helped me think. It really did. It taught me that I knew more than I thought but that I still had a ways to go! That’s why I get super excited when I see articles like this, affirming what I knew intuitively with statistics and studies.
Regular book sharing doesn’t just help children. It helps parents understand how their child learns, which builds their confidence in their own ability to speak on behalf of their child, to have a voice in their child’s educational life. Parents begin to see progress and believe in their children and themselves. When parents begin to understand the power they have and understand that they have a powerful voice, change begins to happen.
Of course every piece of media has its own angle and agenda, so do with this what you will. Ultimately, for me, this is why I want to work in the family and encourage parents to take charge of what their children learns (like this mom here). Not to mention, I’m not super keen on the government deeming what my future children need to learn/not learn. I’m racking my brains as hard as I can to provide this sort of freedom for less-privileged members of society. Perhaps we can think of ways together.
Take a look, it’s in a book!