The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: A Reading Child Is a Winning Child

opinion

"Reading is very important. It is through reading that we learn to think and write. I am constantly aware that many of the people I work with do not read.

Even at pre-school age, children that are read to tend to perform better than those that are not read to, because they are exposed to books and new vocabularies which helps their language development.

Also the more you read the faster you get at reading - so those of us whose work involves reading become more productive. I read all the time - for pleasure as well as work.

I never go anywhere without a book to read. I am amazed when people can sit on a bus, on a plane, on their own in a restaurant and do nothing.

The responsibility for reading starts in the home with parents. From as young as 6 months mothers should show their babies picture books and then as they grow older read to them and encourage their children to look at books.

A reading culture requires that children see reading as normal, so parents need to read. Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading books, newspapers and magazines." This quotation is from one the most celebrated professors of this world, who was reacting to my article that appeared in The New Times of November 27, 2012.

In the same article we had identified various key players that would help in inculcating a culture of reading, especially in the young generation.

Today's article focuses on how a culture of reading leads to better performance and this leads us to today's article "a reading child is a winning child".

Latest research studies link reading proficiency with better grades in all subjects. For example at 8 months, when comparing two babies of the same age, it was indicated that a child that was read to had receptive vocabularies (number of words they understand) increase by 40 per cent since baby hood, while the child that was not read to had an increase of only 16 per cent.

Even at pre-school age, children that are read to tend to perform better than those that are not read to because they are exposed to books and new vocabularies which helps their language development.

Children that are read to develop longer attention span which is an important skill for children in order for them to be able to concentrate and it builds listening skills and imagination. Henceforth, reading books is one of the most important activities that make children obtain better grades in their academic endeavors.

If you are a parent who dreams of helping your child reach their potential, one sure way to achieve this is to encourage your child to read books from a very young age and you will never go wrong!

Like I wrote in my last article, reading is not only for school as most parents may think. You may wonder why this so? I will give reasons why it should be parents first. Psychologists believe that 80 per cent of the child's behavior is acquired from home. Next, children grow up admiring their parents and most of them want to be like their fathers, especially for boy children.

The hard fact is that either directly or indirectly parents are role models to their children. Remember you cannot give your child what you do not have.

As regards reading, parents need to become readers first since its even easy for children to copy what parents do than hear what parents tell them to do. Therefore, set the example.

As children read and ask questions, they develop confidence and know that they cannot have answers for everything, and will not fear asking because they know they get answers to their questions.

So, allow them speak to you about what they read, ask them as they ask you and try to pay attention to their questions because it helps their imaginations develop.

According to the telegraph newspaper, of Friday July 18, 2011, reading with children improves their exam results.

It is also said that young children who read at home with their parents are more likely to do well in their teen age.

In conclusion, decades of research have shown that with parents' involvement, you achieve the following; high grades, better school attendance, increased motivation and self esteem, lower rates of suspension and fewer instances of violent behaviors and use of drugs.

Parents, guardians, teachers, and all the powers that be, let us grow young Rwandans into winners. Until then I rest my case!

The Author is an educationist, author and publisher.

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