There is an easy way to improve your child's chances at school. It will entertain and delight him or her and will strengthen the bonds between you. And it is virtually free.
Sound too good to be true? Actually, it isn't. The magical method: taking time to read aloud to your child.
Research has repeatedly proven that one simple parenting technique is among the most effective. Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.
"Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emerging literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent," concludes a review in this month's Archives of Disease in Childhood.
In other words, reading that bedtime story may not only entertain and soothe your child, it may also develop vocabulary, improve ability to learn to read, and - perhaps most important - foster a lifelong love of books and reading.
Developing that passion for reading is crucial! Students who read the most, read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest.
Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report "Becoming a Nation of Readers," "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading."
The good news for families is that this piece of parenting wisdom is easy to follow. Reading aloud to your child requires only a book - free, with a library card - and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child. And while the sacrifices to read aloud are few, the benefits are many: Your child may learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader. More than these long-term benefits, however, are some more immediate: The pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing the enjoyment of a good book.