Brains Need Exercise Too

On an educational publishing site a parent asks the question “How can I find the “just right” books for my child?Here’s the answer that is given:

Tammy Ledenko, a reading specialist with Scholastic, recommends that you ask your child’s teacher what level she is at, and request a list of appropriate books. However, when reading at home, educators say that children should read a level or two below the one they read at in school, when they are receiving instruction from the teacher. “This will help your child gain confidence and give her a chance to practice the strategies she was taught in school,” says Ledenko.

How different this recommendation from a reading specialist is from that of a fitness instructor talking about weight training:

Beginners should start with 1 – 2 sets of 12 – 15 repetitions. The last repetition should be somewhat difficult to finish.

Everybody knows that we make our muscles stronger by asking a little more of them on a regular basis.

[Training sets] are a pre-determined number of repetitions of a specific activity. Beginners start with 1 – 2 sets of each exercise and increase the number of sets as they become stronger.

The same thing applies to intellectual endeavors. Brains too need to be challenged if they are are to develop.

Children do not become fluent readers by reading “graded” books at school and baby books at home. They learn to read by reading real books written at their level of understanding and a little above.

A ten-year-old who can follow an audiobook with pleasure, but who cannot easily read the same story for himself is almost certainly a victim of educational malpractice.

The only ones who profit from doling out reading word by word, level by level, year by year, are reading specialists and the publishers of graded reading materials.

Teach your child to read at home and start with undoctored versions of Ping the Duck and Peter Rabbit. As the “reading muscles” develop, your child will be ready for Black Beauty and Tarka the Otter by fourth or fifth grade.

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