I thought this was an ed tech blog, what’s up?
While technology is my main gig right now, being a teacher is in my blood–and I’m a dedicated parent. While this post is a bit out of the ordinary for my blog, I felt I needed to write it as a teacher and a mom of 2 young boys…
What if someone gave you a handful of magic bean to help you grow your child’s success in school and later life by increasing their ability to read? I say ‘magic’ because magic is associated with getting something you want without a lot of work. What if those ‘magic beans’ were actions that didn’t require advanced degrees or intense efforts? What if they were backed by research that showed they were effective across the world? Would you do them? Would any loving parent/guardian commit to them? I think so. I found out about them via two articles on how to do just that:
What is PISA?
PISA is an organization that tests students (age 15) globally and ranks countries on their performance. PISA has been doing this since 2000, but in their 2009 testing PISA also collected data from the students’ parents/guardians regarding what they did with their children at home. When PISA looked into parent/guardian activities and student achievement, they found that regardless of how much money or social status a student’s family had, students scored better in reading if parents/guardians were doing a few key simple things.
What Counts Most In the First & Early School Years?
PISA research determined the trifecta for student reading achievement to be:
Not having an advanced degree, doing handstands, or spending hours tutoring–plain old reading, talking and telling stories. Sounds simple, no?
One of the most important activities that parents/guardians could do with their children that made the most impact on their later achievement was when parents/guardians read to children in their first year of primary school–regularly and often. On average, simply reading regularly to a child during that first year in school made ‘well over’ 1/2 year’s difference in achievement (on average 25 points different on PISA test). [I would hazard a guess that families didn’t suddenly start reading often and regularly in that first year–but likely would have been doing it for some time.] Now people might say, rich and educated people would be the ones to really benefit from that, but when compared in similar socio-economic brackets, parents/guardians reading to students regularly and often in the first year of school accounted for a 14 point difference in PISA test scores when the students were 15! When that was combined with talking to children and discussing their day with them, as well as telling stories with them, the impact was amplified.
What Counts Most in the Teen Years?
The research said that when parents/guardians did these 5 things with their children, they made a significant impact on their reading test scores:
Of these, PISA found the activity with the greatest impact was when parents/guardians discussed social or political issues with their children weekly or daily. In these families, students scored 28 points higher on average–well over 1/2 year’s worth of achievement.
What Can You Do About It?
Here are a few ideas I can think of…
Get to the Kids Before Official School Starts:
Early School Years:
What other things are you doing–or could do–to encourage families to plant a few magic reading beans of their own?