Whatever You Want to Be, Reading is the Key

Me and the girl are coming towards the end of our first month of homeschooling. I say “our” because although my daughter is the student, I am learning right along with her. The skills that I place the most emphasis on in our homeschool all have to do with literary skills: scripture memorization, reading aloud and other components of language arts (handwriting, spelling, vocabulary, grammar and reading comprehension). Never mind how I started this paragraph, ok?

The other day, an administrator at her STEM home study school* asked her, “Do you want to be a writer like your mom when you grow up?” She smiled politely and said, “No, I want to be a researcher.” There are quite a few things she’s interested in right now, including becoming the FLOTUS (who’s not inspired by Michelle Obama?), a detective’s desk assistant (“I don’t wanna catch the bad guys–that’s scary”), and a forensic scientist (probably not in that order). She is endlessly curious about her world and how things work, which is awesome. Also, I can always fall back on a quote from an interview with FLOTUS about family life for leverage when my girl doesn’t want to straighten her room.

It seems that we’re headed in the right direction. According to a statistic compiled by the National Coalition Literacy, family literacy is the key to setting up a child on the right path: a mother’s reading skill is the greatest determinant of her children’s future academic success, outweighing other factors, such as neighborhood and family income.

National Literacy Action Week in 2013 runs from January 28 to February 3. Here are a few statistics on American literacy rates according to the Student Coalition for Action in Literacy Education (SCALE):

  • 65% of 4th-graders continue to score below proficiency in reading
  • 33% of all children and more than 50% of low-income and minority youth fail to graduate high school on time
  • 33% of high school graduates have the skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce
  • 10% of minority students who enroll in college will graduate
  • 759 million adults (16% of the world’s population) have only basic or below basic literacy levels
  • 66% of the world’s lowest literacy adults are women*

There’s no question that our children will be ill-equipped for life without a solid foundation in language arts, regardless of their forthcoming career aspirations. Whether you want to be a singer, actor, a professional athlete, or the better half of the President of the United States, you must be literate so you can how to get auditions, apply for scholarships, understand rules, contracts, and so on. Actors and singers seems to get the shine, but I’m willing to bet that the “faceless” songwriters, producers, and others who work behind the scenes are sitting pretty, too.

A few resources for you–in case you’re curious:

National Center for Education Statistics
Things you can do to promote literacy
Ways to read faster

* – I’ll cover more about the homeschooling stuff in my monthly review post next week.

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