Many parents stop reading to their child once he is able to confidently read on his own. But there is great value in continuing to read to your elementary aged son. Here are three values to consider.
Vocabulary – Often boys will want to get to the story and won’t necessarily stop to figure out vocabulary. Yes, eventually they will read the word in different contexts and will figure it out, but they can learn the vocabulary much faster when a parent stops and discusses what a word means. But even if you don’t stop, often children will pick words up easier if it is read to them versus reading it themselves. (This has to do with working memory if you wanted to know.) Plus you will likely be able to read books at a higher comprehension level opening up classics and rich texts.
Comprehension – It is true, some children naturally comprehend well. But other children need direction and all children can benefit from the discipline of asking questions while reading. Here are some questions to think about:
- Who or what is this about?
- What is happening to him/her or it?
- Is there a problem and if yes, what is it?
- Why does that matter?
- How can it be solved?
- What do you think will happen next – are there hints the author is giving us?
- What can I learn (is there a way to prevent the problem or a better way to handle the problem, does my family subscribe to a set of beliefs that would give me direction in handling this problem, does my faith give me direction in handling this problem?)
- Does the author have some kind of bias or is he or she expressing assumptions that give us a hint of their beliefs?
I am going to make a confession here. My children would complain when I would ask questions. They just wanted me to read the story. All of my children, now grown, are great thinkers and all comprehend remarkably well. If I learned anything it was to read all the way through the chapter and ask the questions after, not during the story. But despite their objections the discipline of questioning paid off. Make sure your questions are not just asking for concrete or factual knowledge. Delve into inferences, explore intent, talk about characters strengths and weaknesses, make predictions, draw conclusions at different points of the story and see how your conclusions have changed. Reflect on why you like or dislike the characters, plot, climax, and conclusion.
Bonding – to pass on common experiences, teach values, acknowledge fears and joys, demonstrate your commitment to spending time with your child, give a confidence along with teaching to be resilient, nothing compares to actually spending time with your child. And a high quality way to spend time with your child is to read to them.
So, pick out a good book to read to your older elementary child, sit together and build some memories along with vocabulary, comprehension and bonding. Share, learn and grow together. Sooner or later your son will be too old, so take advantage of these times and read together.