What You Need to Know—Not What You Want to Hear

Wouldn’t you love it if we said, “Help your child gain two or more years of reading ability in just a few weeks!” Maybe you’ve read something like this somewhere else, but, it’s not how things work. It isn’t the truth.

Your child’s brain is remarkably malleable, though. It can grow and make grade-level gains in months. (Brain researchers call this ability to grow “plasticity.”) But, such increases require a lot of consistent practice that focuses on building speedy, automated responses to print. A schedule of five sessions of 15-45 minute per week for months, (depending on your child’s age and areas of struggle), is the correct prescription. Surprisingly, the reading curriculum writers aren’t doing this. We do because the latest brain research says it’s the best way to grow your child’s brain.

This is a challenging training schedule to keep. We lose sales by posting this throughout our website because it’s not what most people want to hear. Growing a child’s reading skills takes a lot of daily practice. Marketing expert would say our telling you that puts up a “barrier to sales conversion.” But, we believe some parents (and grandparents) out there aren’t afraid of hard work, know fairy dust only works in Disney movies, and are willing to commit to the time required because they love their children that much. Their common sense tells them it takes time to build a reading brain, and they can give their children more and better time than anyone else.

Why are these parents willing to roll up their sleeves? They understand the power of reading. They know:
1. Reading is not just an academic skill, but also a life skill, even a mental health skill. For example, research says reading helps us improve mental flexibility and build empathy.
2. Their children must be able to read rapidly at an adult level to help them solve the unending slew of problems life will throw at them.
3. Reading develops the mind; reading naturally grows attention and memory skills as well as vocabulary.
4. Reading builds brain. As daily practice thickens “superhighways” for rapidly recognizing print, the brain not only builds stronger reading skills, but it also improves the rate at which we think and learn.
5. Reading builds creativity. Researchers have shown that reading fiction can help the brain process information in a more general, open-minded, multiple-perspective-taking way. They believe this flexibility of thought to be a key component in creative thinking and problem-solving.

Yes, reading is king in the classroom, but it is profoundly more. Print is visible thought, and reading is one of the most empowering skills these parents will ever teach their kids. They know this, so they will do whatever it takes to help their children become at least grade-level readers. (The wiser coaches are shooting for above-grade-level reading ability.) They understand that the 50-100 hours they put in is a payment of crumbs in comparison to the feast that reading fluently and confidently will bring their children. These parents know that while the school might make accommodations for their children, life won’t. They know they are the most important teachers in their children’s lives, and they will not let this window of opportunity shut down their children’s chances of participating fully in life.

Your child can’t gain two years of reading ability in two weeks, but he or she may make such gains in 18 or 24 weeks if you both put in the work. It may not be what you wanted to hear, but it is what every parent needs to know. Now, aren’t you glad you know it?

Follow our blog for more ways to build your child’s brain. Better.

(See more on the big-picture benefits of reading at https://www.sacap.edu.za/blog/psychology/benefits-of-reading/.)

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