Say “Yes!” to Love and Learning: The Importance of Reading at Home


Say “Yes!” to Love and Learning: The Importance of Reading at Home


     Recently, I was asked to be the Keynote Speaker for a local group called, Live Inspired. Their mission strives to glorify Jesus Christ and empower parents to be their child’s first, best teacher, using joyful communication and positive play to grow young minds and prepare children to thrive in school and life. They were having their annual benefit banquet, and I knew two of the ladies who were volunteers for the program.

     When I was asked to be a speaker for this benefit, I discovered that the lessons of my teaching go hand in hand with the mission of Live Inspired. I always encouraged parents to read with their children at home and instill positive relationships and a love of learning. So, I said yes, and delivered my speech to about 190 people. I want to tell you about the program and some of what I said because it can benefit all parents of young children.

     The full name of this program is Live Inspired- a replication site of the ParentChild + Program. It is a non-profit and an evidence-based model that provides two years of intensive twice-weekly home visits to underserved families with children between the ages of 16 months and 4 years who are subject to poverty, isolation, limited educational opportunities, language/literacy barriers, or other obstacles to healthy development and academic success.

     There are curricular guide sheets available for the families if they choose. These volunteers work with the families and their children, providing educational books and toys and educating the parents on the importance of parent-child interaction. This empowers the parents and gives them the confidence they need to be their child’s first and best teacher. These skills will also prepare a child for success in school.

     One thing I did with every class that I ever taught was read to the kids. I asked the parents to do the same at home. For many, hearing an old familiar story is a source of comfort. In my classroom, I always had posters about the importance of reading. I had a big banner type posgter in the front of my room that said, “Readers are Leaders.” Reading at home for 20 minutes daily, independently or with someone in the house was recommended. Starting at birth, reading puts the child on a path to success and sets the stage for the rest of the child’s life. Reading to your child daily from an early age is an important key to success.

     As a teacher at every level, I could always tell which students practiced this at home. They were the students who had a better vocabulary, exhibited more self-confidence, and were eager learners. They also had better listening skills. They were the ones who understood how stories develop. They liked to look at books during their free time. They loved having me read stories to them. Read, read, read- I can’t emphasize this enough! It will grow your child’s curiosity and memory. Reading to children will help strengthen that parent-child bond, and show the child that you value learning and time spent together reading.

     Having a child watch a TV show, even if it is educational, is not the same as having a book in hand with the words from someone they love, or seeing pictures and hearing the familiar book repeatedly. Having a child plug into a device is., a phone, tablet, or video game is not the same as learning to sit and listen to a book. Reading to your children is important, and they will prosper in school. Even before they can understand words, reading to children teaches them to associate books with love and affection.

     Learning goes beyond the classroom. Every time a parent asks a child to do a puzzle together, play an educational game together, read together, or prepare some food together, it strengthens academic success. When parents actively participate in their child’s education, it boosts the student’s confidence and helps them perform better in school. Reading is the backbone of your child’s learning and whether you are reading a book to your child or having a family reading time, it demonstrates the importance of reading skills. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said, “There are many ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”

     Making cookies can be a simple way to read a recipe, work on some math skills, and create a family bond. Playing with play dough is a great way to strengthen those little hands. It is great for imaginative play and when you talk about it, it helps develop language skills.

     Another activity is, “Today we are going to make ice cream, and we need to make some round shapes to put in the bowl. What flavor is your favorite? I am going to have a scoop of strawberry and chocolate.” What letter does the word strawberry begin? What letter does the word chocolate begin? These are fun ways to practice letter recognition.

     Using measuring cups to scoop water from one bowl and pour it into another helps develop fine motor skills that will someday lead to handwriting.

     Going to a park and taking turns on the slide, or swinging on the swings is a great way to prepare for school. All these things work together to show your child we are a team, and everything you do to help your child strengthen the skills we are working on at school. Live Inspired teaches parents to implement these skills and prepare their children to be successful in school.

     When a child goes to school, there are important things to know from a teacher’s perspective. We are all on the same team, and as teachers, we will advocate for your child as if they were our own. Open and honest communication is paramount for academic success in school. This can mean daily checks, quick texts, or emails. Paying attention to each other respectfully requires work from everyone. If there is something at home that will affect the classroom, we need to know. Teachers are good problem solvers and are happy to assist when possible with an issue. Communication is key to success.

     I realized I learned life lessons from all the special kids I taught. There are 10 life lessons at the end of my book. One of the life lessons learned from teaching special children is that everyone should feel celebrated and be given recognition for their gains. Kids believe what they’re told. So tell them that they’re amazing. Tell them they are bright, funny, and a joy to be around. Build them up, don’t break them down. Celebrate your children and give them recognition for their gains. They will be on their way to learning with a bright and beautiful future in school. Remember to read to your children: Readers are Leaders!