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The Power of Reading

I have always loved reading; it is the ideal break for me, especially in winter when the open fire is burning. However, I know it isn’t everyone's favourite activity, yet it is critical to our learning processes.

The recently published Grattan Institute Report, The Reading Guarantee: How to give every child the best chance of success (2024), revealed some staggering results regarding children's reading standards in Australia. This report supports other growing evidence that literacy skills are declining in Australia. COVID-19 certainly played a significant part in impacting the learning of many children, especially those in the early years, but the issue goes further back than COVID-19. However, it isn’t a hopeless scenario – science shows us that our intelligence is not fixed, and we have the capacity to catch up and exceed our expectations.

I am also encouraged that the Grattan report recommends the strategies we began implementing in 2023. Letters and Sounds, an evidence-based synthetic phonics approach, was rolled out and backed with significant investment in new resources. Likewise, targeted support for students struggling with decoding and the introduction of Writing Revolution an approach that improves writing, reading, speaking and thinking are some ways we are reinforcing the importance and necessity of mastering literacy skills.

Here at Red Rock, we want all our students to thrive in their learning, mastering skills and delving into areas of their gifting and strengths.  An essential part of successful learning and thriving in every domain is reading. Just like going for a jog improves our cardiovascular system, reading improves our brain power and memory.  It has many other benefits, including increasing vocabulary, developing critical thinking, and expanding our knowledge and understanding of the world.

One of the most important roles parents can play in their child’s education is nurturing and supporting their child’s love of reading and reading ability. Research shows that 20 minutes a day of reading (outside of school) significantly impacts learning outcomes right through school.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of reading.

1.      Boost Brain Power: Like exercise increases cardiovascular fitness, reading improves brain fitness. Reading stimulates a complex network of circuits in your brain. As your reading improves, these networks become stronger. Conversely, if we don’t use our brain muscles, our capacity will likely decline – reading regularly keeps our cognitive pathways strong and healthy and improves our memory.   

2.      Encourages Deep Work: Newport (2016) explains that Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks. This skill allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. It sharpens our critical and analytical capacity and increases our capacity for learning.

3.      Increases Vocabulary and Comprehension: A child who reads or is read to for twenty minutes a day will hear approximately 1,800,000 words per year compared to 8,000 if they read for one minute per day. Exposure to a wide range of vocabulary through reading exposes readers to new words and phrases in context, aiding in vocabulary expansion and improving comprehension. Both of these skills enhance communication and directly impact learning in all areas.

4.      Relaxing: Reading has also been associated with an improved ability to relax. It can provide a mental break from daily stressors and is proven to be more effective than passive pursuits such as scrolling on social media or zoning out while watching television.

5.      Improves Learning Outcomes: reading is a healthy activity that involves us in absorbing information, following a storyline, connecting with the emotions and circumstances of others, remembering details, applying judgement, and making connections with our real world  - all of which lead to greater capacity for learning and better outcomes throughout school and university.

There are many evidence-based reasons why reading should be a part of our children’s daily routine, whether they are being read to, participating in shared reading or reading independently. It is a rich, benefit-packed way to invest in your child’s education.

We are working to get our students reading more and encourage you to join us in becoming a community that reads more and in doing so grows more.  

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