The single most important thing that will help your child succeed in school!

I know you are busy, so I’ll cut to the chase! What is the number one way to help your child succeed in school? Reading.
>> It is the SINGLE. MOST. IMPORTANT. thing that will help your child succeed in his/her education.<<  (Trust me… there are a gazillion research studies that prove this.)
Help your child be successful at school!Now I can hear you… yeah, yeah, yeah… I know that reading is important.  We’ve been told this often enough!
Well… let me repeat it again!


(In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m kinda passionate about this topic!)
This is what I tell my students… all. the. time…

Reading makes you smarter!

It is the easiest and best way to grow your brain muscles.
Being a good reader not only helps in reading class, but in pretty much every subject, and even math. (If you have checked out your kid’s math book lately, you’ll know there’s almost more reading than numbers in that thing!)
Now I can hear you saying… okay, okay… I get it!  But as a parent what can I do?
Simple answer: Read. (Insert the “Well, duh! “ right here.)

Read to them, read with them, read next to them…just READ!

If reading is the BEST way to do well in school (and in life), the best way to become a better reader is to practice… reading that is!   I always tell my students that to get better at playing an instrument or a sport… you need to practice.  The best way to become a better reader… READ!

Read to your kids…early and often!

Read to them until they are old enough to be embarrassed about it… and then read to them some more!
Now in case you are feeling guilty because you know you should do this and you haven’t done enough of this…it’s time for a full confession from me… when my kids were little… I didn’t either. (I’m hanging my head in shame at this point.)  Yes, my husband and I read to our kids some, but we were not religious about it like some of our friends were.  So… stop feeling guilty and make an effort to do better.  It’s kinda like exercise… every bit helps…even a little bit!

Carve out time for your child to read.

Set aside time (or set page goals) every day… or at least 4-5 times a week.  Some like to set the timer for a certain number of minutes of reading each time. I personally like page goals like…5-10 pages per day.  This eliminates “time-wasting.”(It’s really easy to spending your “reading time” finding your book… getting a drink of water…going to the bathroom, etc…)  When your pages are done, your reading is done for the day.

Model reading.

(That’s teacher talk for saying let them see you read.)  Some parents feel guilty about this since there is so much work to be done.  Don’t!  Feel guilty that is… we take time to do what is important to us. Send the message that reading is important enough to take some time to do it.  Not to mention… there is always going to be a lot of work to do.
If you are really struggling with this… baby steps… set aside time a few times a week.  (Suggestion: line it up with your child’s reading time.)
You might be whispering… Yeah I know reading is important, but I don’t like to read. (Big gasp from me!)  You don’t have to dig out some big, thick novel.  Read a magazine that interests you, a devotional, a how-to book, or even a cookbook. (Which is one I don’t understand… because I hear reading those leads to cooking…something I try very hard to avoid.)

Another option is to read young adult books or “tween-ager” books. 

These books are usually shorter, the stories are not super complicated and most have a happy ending.  Ask your local upper elementary kid for some recommendations. Not to mention if you have a child in upper elementary, you will have something to discuss with him/her.
This might really freak them out when you can discuss books that they are also reading… yet another bonus!

Have books….lots of books… in your house.  

(If you are the lucky owner of an iPad, Kindle, or other reader tablet… have both kinds of books available… electronic and the paper kind.)

Buy your kids books.

Let me remind you… you will spend time (and money) on what is important to you. Both my kids know that when asking me for something they want in the store… it’s a crapshoot on whether or not I will let them get it… unless it’s a book.  There’s an 85-90% chance that they will walk out of the store with a book they’ve asked for.
This doesn’t mean that every time we go to the store my kids walk out with a new book. Apparently they enjoy eating… a few times a day no less. And it is frowned upon if I were to send them to school naked… so I do have to spend much of my money on essentials. But if I can swing it, I’d much rather invest in a book than another toy that they will get tired of quickly.
I do realize buying lots of books can get pricey.
Shop at garage sales, second-hand bookstores and second-hand stores in general. They all have a book section… and usually you can get books dirt-cheap.
Also another good way is to order books from those book flyers your school children bring home. This is a win-win.  Usually these are some of the best prices for books, and your child’s teacher gets book points for books purchased…which she can then turn around and use to build up her classroom library.  (Warning… unfortunately these book clubs have also started to sell more and more “non-book things” like pencils, stationary, stickers… you know… crap your kid doesn’t need.  Why?  Because… it is what sells and what your kid will want. Stay strong my friend!  You can always have a “books only” policy.)
And then there is the almighty library.  It is can be an excellent resource of books… for FREE! 
We live in a small town and quite honestly our local library is also small. However it is part of a larger system and connects the libraries of 32 towns in our state! And thanks to technology, if I’m looking for a book, I just hop on the library’s website and reserve the book.  If my town’s library doesn’t have it, it will come from a different library.  And they call me when it comes! I can also check out /return books from any library that’s part of the system. It’s kind of like a Red Box for books!  They also loan out ebooks.

So there you go… no seriously… go read! 

Hopefully you found a suggestion or two to use or at the very least it was a good reminder about the importance of reading.   I’d love to hear what some suggestions for what works for your family.
Also, if you are looking for some suggestions on what to read, check out Allison’s post on Mighty Books for Girls.  She gives some GREAT suggestions!
And for those of you who are ready to pull your hair out with how to motivate a struggling reader, I offer 7 no-fail tips to help your struggling reader here, it is really helpful!
You’re doing a great job mom and dad, keep it up :)
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