As a parent, grandparent, and educator, I am always interested in how educational issues are viewed through lenses other than the educational lens. Recently, while reading Inc.BrandView: Thought Leadership for Business Owners, I came across this article -- Want to Raise Successful Kids? Neuroscience Says Read to Them Like This (But Most Parents Don't), which was linked to other thought-provoking articles in Psychology Today.
There is plenty of evidence that reading to and with children stimulates brain growth, prepares children for learning on their own, and builds readers who read for pleasure and information for their entire lives. But are there ways to read to and with children that go deeper, connect learning and living, and prepare kids for greater success later in life? Apparently neuroscience has some answers to this intriguing question.
Research has proven that reading to and with children, even infants, (and especially infants), provides these benefits -- bonding between parent and child, and a demonstration of how communication, both written and oral, works. Communication skills are the building blocks for kindergarten and reading, and reading success is highly correlated with educational success. Educational success is highly correlated with life success -- and parents, guardians, and educators can help foster this through deeper reading strategies.
Erin Clabough, quoted in the Inc.BrandView article, was also linked to her article featured in Psychology Today, and she gives us some specific tips that go beyond simply reading as a bedtime routine, as a way to highlight specific learning for children (remember all of those books on good manners, being a good friend, etc?), or a way to expose our children to different worlds. Reading “inside of a book,” according to Clabough, is a way to help children develop specific skills that promote success. An example of this is the well-known study that showed that adults who read a short literary fiction text can better understand the mental states of others (Kidd and Castano 2013). When we share literary fiction with children,we need to discuss the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters in order to help our children understand the characters’ motivations and perspectives; it strengthens their innate sense of empathy.
So how do we do this? I’ve shared some of Clabough’s ideas, and have added my own as well.
When reading, pause often, and:
In Claybough’s words, “As parents, we are in control of what children practice in an intimate and powerful way. We all want kids to be proficient readers. But on a deeper level, what do we really want our children to be good at? Empathy can be distilled down to simply taking another’s perspective—an easy thing to practice— but the benefits of enhanced empathy skills are staggering: Empathetic people are more satisfied with life, they have better relationships and lower divorce rates. Empathetic people are better bosses, coworkers, negotiators, and friends.”
My challenge to you -- as parents, guardians grandparents, or educators -- is to dare to go deep when reading. Take the extra time, and enjoy the discussions, knowing that you are building intellectually empathetic kids, and giving them the gift of a lifetime.
As always, I hope that this foray into other ideas, and then linking them to the gifted perspective, has made you think. I welcome hearing from you!
Past President, WATG
Gifted in Perspective
A column designed to link the gifted perspective to other perspectives, and to make you think.