In support of December’s curriculum theme, “Read All About It!”, the childhood education professionals at Hot Spots Extended Care Program highlight the benefits of reading with your children, and provide suggestions for extending learning beyond the classroom.  

Hot Spots’ December Curriculum Theme invites children to get cozy and curl up with a good book. Extend the lessons your child has learned by promoting reading as a fun activity at home.

Benefits of Reading to Children

School-age children are exceptionally active and inquisitive. At this stage in your child’s development, reading not only gives you as a parent the increasingly rare chance to snuggle up and enjoy a few minutes with your child: it provides them with an opportunity to learn and explore new ideas. National Education Association statistics show that parental involvement in a child’s development of reading skills increases their reading proficiency. Taking the time to read with your child also gives you a chance to communicate with one another without the distractions of everyday life.

Reading is both a fun and engaging activity that reinforces school-age cognitive development. According to the National Education Association, children who are read to on a regular basis are more likely to have the ability to demonstrate independent reading skills. Despite being read to at home producing such positive outcomes, however, only about half of US children are read to by a member of their family, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And although in recent years, percentages of underachieving readers in grades 4 and 8 have decreased, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, they remain significant: just over 30% and just under 25%, respectively.

Children’s and young adult literature in particular offer additional benefits beyond the development of reading and academic skills. The books are written with children in mind, and are therefore excellent tools for discussing important topics and ideas. Concepts like diversity, inclusion, manners, patience, sharing, and empathy are discussed in simple and relatable ways using characters with which your child is likely to identify.

Book-Themed Activities

Besides reading to and with your child on a regular basis, another way to reinforce what your child has learned through reading is to engage in book-themed activities. Here are a few suggestions:

Name That Book! – Pick a book from your child’s collection, obscuring the cover and title page. Read them a chapter of the book without revealing the title. Ask them to see if they can name the book’s title. This activity encourages memory training, and facilitates close reading and listening as your child pays careful attention to determine which book you are reading them.

Book Quiz – After you finish reading a book with your child, ask them a list of questions to help them improve their memory of the story. What were the names of the characters? Which one was the main character, and did they like him or her? What happened at the end of the book? What was one of the lessons the characters learned? What lessons should you and your child be learning from the book? What other books have similar stories? What makes the book’s setting similar to or different from your own world?

Book-Themed Eats – Have your child pick a book to read. After you finish, work together to make the food in the book, or that is representative of the book’s theme. Here are some examples:

  • The Marshmallow Incident by Judi Barrett – S’mores
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff – Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle – Swiss Cheese, sausage, watermelon
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs—Spaghetti and Meatballs

Hot Spots Curriculum

Because frequent reading has such clearly measurable benefits for academic performance, Hot Spots Extended Care Programs students spend an average of 75 minutes every week reading aloud in the morning, and participating in supplemental supervised reading in afternoon Study Hall. Hot Spots also devoted 46% of its School Partnership Events to reinforcing literacy concepts during the 2015-2016 school year.

For more information on how to reinforce the December curriculum theme through activities at home, contact the childhood education professionals at Hot Spots Extended Care Programs!