Last updated: August 06. 2014 11:53AM - 276 Views
By David Moody

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It’s just about time for those three words almost every kid hates to hear … back to school.

I know, I know: It seems like there’s way too much summer left to have to prepare for the transition to routines and homework, and I don’t have any advice for you where that’s concerned, but there is one part of school that may be the most important thing your child will learn and carry into their futures, helping determine their success or lack thereof.

With all the new standards and the apparent necessity to take the three R’s into a complex maze of changes most engineers couldn’t navigate, there is one simple thing you can do to make your child more successful.

No, it isn’t finally figuring out how math changed so much when you always assumed 2+2=4. What is the biggest key to your child’s education?

Reading … and it doesn’t require a doctorate in physics to do, just practice.

I was an adjunct English instructor at a college and was disturbed to discover one requirement on my class list was a reading comprehension class for ALL incoming freshmen.

This was a school in South Carolina and my students were almost exclusively from the within the state. I was aware our education system was near or at the bottom in the U.S., depending on the year of the statistic, but I had no idea things had gone downhill so far.

I was shocked by the thought I would have to teach a class of high school graduates how to read, determine the meanings of words they didn’t know or understand, and evaluate what they had taken in critically.

Reading is the most basic building block of education. Without the ability to read and do so with comprehension it becomes exponentially more difficult to learn any subject at all, including math, and as you age becomes a bigger issue as an employee. The ability to read and communicate in many cases can be the deciding factor in promotions, hires and success no matter your field of work.

Beginning with a small child, it’s becoming more and more important to expose them to literacy. A passion for reading isn’t a bad thing and has been even indicated as a means of staving off Alzheimer’s or dementia by exercising your brain. A crossword or two a week doesn’t hurt either.

The trick is once you become an adult actually continuing to practice. Over time, no matter the material you read, your vocabulary expands as does your ability to grasp abstract concepts and ideas. By a continual regimen of books, articles, poetry or any other thing you can get your hands on, the continued growth is phenomenal … and you will be surprised by the changes in your child’s grades.

It’s one thing to see a math problem performed on a board and another to be able to read the text and find the solution because you could decipher what it’s trying to tell you, especially if you’re a parent helping with homework these days.

So, if you want your child to succeed, there isn’t a greater investment in their future — and it doesn’t require a great deal of financial investment because the library is free — read to them and with them. Foster in them a desire to learn through the use of their imaginations. Let them see you read and they will think it’s cool because Mom or Dad does it all the time.

But I challenge you to go one step further: I challenge you to push yourself. Just because you’re grown up and have a job and responsibility doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from the effort whether it’s a trade magazine, fiction or a piece of history.

We may be adults, but the learning never stops, so pick up a book. Better yet, hand one to your kid.

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