Reading Builds Your Child’s Literacy Level!
IMPORTANCE OF YOUR CHILD’S LEVEL OF LITERACY
Your child’s literacy is a critical component in your child’s future success in life. As parents, one of your primary responsibilities, if not your primary role, is to develop your child’s level of literacy to the highest level possible. Building and developing literacy takes place through many aspects of parenting. What goes on in your child’s formal schooling environment is obviously significant, but what is done in non-school environments, such as at home and in other social activities, also strongly contributes to the development of your child’s literacy.
Reading proficiency by the end of third grade is the most critical indicator of whether a child will graduate high school. Why is third grade such a critical point? In fourth grade, curriculum shifts to more advanced topics. If a child is still learning to read, it makes reading to learn that much more difficult. If a child is reading proficiently by the end of third grade, that child is four times more likely to graduate from high school than their classmate who struggles with reading.
The learning-to-read phase and the reading-to-learn phase are two parts to an elementary classroom instructional reading program. The instructional program develops readers who learn to read independently for pleasure and learning which, in turn, is supported by both instruction and the collection in the school library
WHAT IS LITERACY
What exactly is literacy? Literacy has been broadly defined as the ability to use written language actively and passively. This ability corresponds to a child’s ability to read, write, spell, listen and speak. As discussed in my prior posts, a high reading level is essential to a child’s ability to develop a high literacy level. Does reading improve writing skills? Clearly the answer to that question is “Yes.” And that is important because the ability to write well leads the way to higher levels of overall literacy.
WHY IS A DISCUSSION OF LITERACY NECESSARY?
Simple! The average American adult has the reading level of a 9th grader. A recent national assessment of adult literacy showed that 43% of adults living in the U.S., some 93 million people, have basic or below basic literacy skills. In fact, more than 30 million adults in the United Sates cannot read, write, or do basic math above a 3rd grade level. Between 40 and 44 million adults, or roughly 20 to 23% of adults in the United States are limited to reading at the basic or below basic proficiency levels.
Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), these children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. In a Rand report, Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education, it was found that 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school and demonstrated a low literacy rate. As found in the American Journal of Public Health, low literacy contributes to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, that results in these persons incurring higher health costs.
HOW LOW LITERACY AFFECTS US
Low literacy has both individual and societal harm. Individuals suffer a variety of debilitating consequences, such as:
- A Limited ability to obtain and understand essential information;
- Unemployment: The unemployment rate is 2–4 times higher among those with little schooling than among those with Bachelor’s degrees;
- Lower income;
- Lower-quality jobs;
- Reduced access to lifelong learning and professional development;
- Precarious financial position;
- Little value being given to education and reading within the family, and this often leads to intergenerational transmission of illiteracy;
- Low self-esteem, which can lead to isolation;
- Impact on health: Illiterate individuals have more workplace accidents, take longer to recover and more often misuse medication through ignorance of health care resources and because they have trouble reading and understanding the relevant information (warnings, dosage, contraindications, etc.).
Added to these individual handicaps making life harder for individuals, is the effect on society of a significant illiterate population. As pointed out by Lecester Johnson, in an article he wrote in The Washington Post, November 1, 2016, among these are:
- Since literacy is an essential tool for individuals and states to be competitive in the new global knowledge economy, many positions remain vacant for lack of personnel adequately trained to hold them;
- The higher the proportion of adults with low literacy proficiency is, the slower the overall long-term GDP growth rate is;
- The difficulty in understanding societal issues lowers the level of community involvement and civic participation.
We have learned that a child’s literacy level and reading ability are inter-related. I have presented you some basic background facts about the state of literacy in the United States so you would more easily correlate the two. I have pointed out how low levels of literacy will contribute to a child’s less than successful life achievements. I have also explained how a child’s reading ability contributes to a child’s future success in educational achievement, as well as any future success in life one would expect that child to achieve.
STANDING ON THE BRINK OF A PRECIPICE
Where does this leave you, the parents of this child tottering on the precipice of a future filled with success or failure? You are clearly the seer, seeing with great clarity the potential success or failure of your newborn child. You have the opportunity to take your child step by step into that future. Teaching your child to read at an early age is within your grasp. Assuming you have made the best choice for your child to teach him/her to read, you must now make a further decision. How will you teach your child to read. Do you have the necessary tools to do this? This involves both parenting and teaching skills.
WHICH WAY TO GO
There are several different approaches to teaching a child to read. You will have to choose which method to teach. You will have to learn how to teach the method you choose for your child. You will also need to have the time to do this. Being well intentioned without the necessary skills will not be enough.
In my next post I will be discussing these and other related issues for choosing the right way to go. See you there.
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