Recent research on the value of homework consistently shows that young children do not benefit from homework. In some cases, it can be detrimental because it takes away from play time and can create frustration. These may leave parents wondering what they can do to support learning at home. The best thing to do, and the only thing that is proven to have a positive impact on learning in the long term, is a regular reading routine.
Reading in the evening from a very young age serves many purposes, all of which are important in a child’s development. It strengthens the bond between parents and children, inspires curiosity, and builds early literacy skills. Children also learn social skills through the characters in their stories, and the content helps them build an understanding of the world around them.
Children receive these benefits with as little as twenty minutes dedicated to reading each night. The key is starting when they are young, and building a routine. Most parents or caregivers read to their children before bedtime as a way to unwind from the day. Once children are reading on their own, they can do a combination of independent reading and reading with their caregivers. They continue to enjoy having stories read to them, and it can enhance their skills to hear an adult read with expression and fluency. As children get older, bedtime is a natural time for them to set aside for reading, but many enjoy reading after school to relax.
Reading is a great way to build conversation with your children and form a home/school connection. Talk to your children about what they are reading in school, and take them to local libraries and book stores regularly to get a sense for the kind of books they like. Also, modeling reading skills in your own life will help them understand the importance of reading for everyone. Lifelong readers become lifelong learners!