Connecting School and Home
Sebastian Wren, Ph.D.
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I recently heard reading consultant Quality Quinn (yes, that really
is her name -- check out her website at QualityQuinn.com)
describe the first day of kindergarten as the first day of reading remediation
for a lot of kids. That concept really hit me -- it takes a life-long
perspective on learning to read, and accepts that reading development begins
Of course she's right. The statistics for reading failure clearly
indicate that the overwhelming majority of kids who have difficulty learning
to read are children who come from poverty. The education level and
income level of the household from which the child comes is one of the
best predictors of academic success in school.
The research on home support has shown that kids who are successful
come from very supportive and enriching households. Children from
high-income households are exposed to approximately 30 million more words
than children from low-income households in the first 3 years of their
lives. As a result, high-income kids enter school with a much richer
vocabulary, being familiar with about twice as many words as their less
fortunate peers. They usually have already mastered many of the reading
and writing basics, having good concepts about print, letter knowledge,
and often even some letter-sound knowledge. And their background knowledge
is more in line with the concepts that will be taught in school.
Parents play an important role in helping children learn to read, and
schools and teachers need to collaborate with parents, working together
to provide consistent support at home and at school.
-- To learn more about a particular book, or to purchase a
copy of that book, just click on the image of the book cover --
by Catherine E. Snow, Wendy S. Barnes, Jean Chandler, Irene F. Goodman,
and Lowry Hemphill
Published in 2000 by IUniverse
This is an excellent and very thorough examination of the various family
and school influences that affect student achievement. A group of
low-income children from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds
is examined over a two-year period. Their family dynamics, school dynamics,
and interrelationships between the two worlds are described in, at times,
embarrassing detail. Variables such as instructional strategies, teachers
quality, reading and writing habits, homework, mobility, parent-teacher interactions,
discipline, truancy, motivation, parent support and guidance and many more
are examined and discussed.
A follow-up study four years later describes the academic and personal
trajectory of children in the original study. Their challenges, their
talents, their plans and ambitions are discussed -- some are already having
difficulty with the law, others are fairing better. The quality of
the teacher in the younger grades plays an enormously important role in
the prospects of the children in this study, but their home and social influences
play a role as well. Some of the children who were fortunate to have
high-quality instruction from talented teachers none-the-less were having
difficulties in school and in life by the time of the follow-up study.
The interaction between supportive parents and high-quality teachers
was the most robust foundation for these children, but in the absence of
supportive parents, the teacher still had the potential to significantly
improve each child's prospects for success. In the absence of high-quality
teachers, the prospects were quite grim indeed.
Starting Out Right
by M. Susan Burns, Catherine E. Snow, Peg Griffin, Betty Alberts
Published in 1999 by National Academies Press
When "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children" was published,
a companion book was also developed to give parents useful information
about what they can do to help their children develop into successful
readers. The focus of Starting Out Right is on the elements of
early reading, activities that parents can do at home to foster and
promote the development of literacy skills, and some warning signs that
parents should look for as their children start to develop basic
reading skills. The book goes on, however, to give parents
information about questions they should ask teachers, school boards,
and other policymakers about reading instruction.
Overall, this is an easy-to-read book for reasonably well-educated
parents. It would make a good gift for the parents of a newborn,
and it offers some information and advice that may help parents to
better help their children to develop literacy skills. It is also
a good resource book for people who interact with parents of very young
children. Day-care providers, social workers, and pediatricians
should read this book so they can offer useful advice to parents of
young children who may not be willing or able to read this book
BalancedReading.com • P. O.
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Last Updated 1-1-05