Role of reading

The role of schools in cultivating expert reading skills in children

There’s bad news for parents – schools have only a secondary role in cultivating reading skills among children. Homes, role-modeled by parents, are the primary spaces for developing higher level reading skills. Reading is a highly intensive, non-reflexive, time-consuming and collegial activity, not suitable for competitive, time-tabled schools.
Happily, nonetheless, schools remain the prime planner, assessor and coach for reading skills for children whose parents are not skilled readers. Short of reading culture
and environment, most homes cannot conceive and enforce the discipline of joyful reading. Thus, the role of planning and monitoring of reading content at home is a critical contribution schools have to make towards developing reading skills among students.
The key tasks in the schools’ share of responsibilities for maximising reading at home are:
1. Create more contexts or opportunities for reading at home – such as flipped classrooms.
Reading of ‘concept conversations’ at home instead of exercises as homework; reading ahead of class at home and teachers should stop reading textbooks in classroom.
2. Devising multiple strategies for assessing reading skills
Parents are clueless on assessing reading and schools must use standards and benchmarks to assess reading gains and feedback parents on improvements needed in reading style and content.
3. Finding a way to monitor the quantity and quality of expected reading at home
To ensure that reading happens at home, schools have to devise ways and means to continuously keep a tab on reading at home. Technology can help in a big way in monitoring reading at home.
4. Plan contexts for reading in a way that there is an everyday reading task
Reading has to become a habit.
5. Ensure adequate opportunities at school for giving expressions to the reading done at home
Such as everyday discussions/essay writing/critiquing of the content of reading done at home.
6. Continuously work on ensuring widest genre of reading for every student
Filter out appropriate content for reading fictions, science books, history books, science fictions, historical fictions, religious stories, travelogues, non-fictions etc.
7. Encourage reading in all the languages being taught
The language of instruction should get prominence but all other languages must also be read
8. Reading of all the ‘textbooks’ by every student within the first month of the academic session
Reading should be the primary mode of learning for students and they should be required to completely read out all the prescribed text books, cover to cover, as the first step towards learning the content of the syllabi during the year.
To summarise, schools are quite critical to the development of reading among children but the primary reading space will be homes.

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