Parents often ask teachers what they can do to support their child’s academic progress at home. As teachers, we welcome this question, as it shows a genuine interest in working with the school to support students to become the most effective learners that they can be. Happily, for almost all students, there is one simple thing that parents can do that will be more beneficial than anything else: you need to support and encourage your child to read for pleasure. As Mike Schmoker states in the ASCD Educational Leadership magazine, “Students should read and/or be read to for a minimum of 60 minutes daily, across the curriculum, at every grade level” (2019).  

Readers Do Better In Academics

Countless studies have shown that students who read more are more successful not just in English Literature and related subjects, but across the full spectrum of their courses, from the arts to maths and sciences. Lois Bridges, Ph.D., states that reading leads to a “deep conceptual understanding about a wide range of topics, expanded vocabulary, strategic reading ability, critical literacy skills, and engagement with the world that’s more likely to make them dynamic citizens drawn into full civic participation.” (2010) This and many other studies suggest that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who do not, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. In fact, reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.

How To Support Your Child’s Reading

So at home, encourage your child to pick up a book. It is best if your child is reading a range of books, but most importantly, they should be books that he or she has chosen. If your child is in elementary school, read together – it doesn’t matter what language you read in. If your child is older, ask them about his or her reading. You might be surprised to discover what your child has learned from a book. 

James Butterfield is an English Language teacher at The Canadian International School of Phnom Penh.

References and Further Reading

Bridges, L. (2010). RTI: The best intervention is a good book [White paper]. New York: Scholastic.

Schmoker, M. (2019) Focusing on the essentials. Educational Leadership, 77(1), 30–35.