12 July 2022

Reading activities by Helen Searle, Head of Primary

Reading activities by Helen Searle, Head of Primary

Reading activities by Helen Searle, Head of Primary

Why are reading activities important? 
How dull would life be without reading? Not only would it lack the richness of losing oneself in a good book but it also goes without saying that virtually nothing can be accessed without the ability to read and understand. Reading and reading activities are really important even to use a phone, or to access social media. I wonder how many times we read something every single day, without realising it? Reading is a constant activity all day long and becomes second nature to us.

Reading for pleasure is the single biggest factor in success later in life, outside of education. Study after study has shown that those children who read for pleasure are the ones who are most likely to fulfil their ambitions. If your child reads, they will succeed - it’s that simple” Bali Rai

How reading activities help the development of your child?
We need to instil a love of reading in children for many reasons beyond the above. Evidence suggests that reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background. Being able to read well is central to academic success, but also far more than that as will be discussed below. 

- improves brain connectivity. Brain scans have shown that throughout the reading period and for days afterwards, brain connectivity increases.
- increases your vocabulary and comprehension.
- empowers you to empathise with other people. Research has also shown that people who read literary fiction involving characters show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others.
- aids in sleep readiness. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest reading as part of a regular sleep routine. Reading fiction can allow you to temporarily escape your own world and become swept up in the imagined experiences of the         characters. 
- reduces stress, lowers blood pressure and heart rate. The National Institute on Ageing has found that 30 minutes of reading lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress.
- fights depression symptoms.
- prevents cognitive decline as you age due to the brain activity and creativity it promotes.

It’s especially important for children to read as much as possible because the effects of reading are cumulative. However, it’s never too late to begin taking advantage of the many physical and psychological benefits waiting for you in the pages of a good book.
Reading skill and structural brain development
2015 Mar 26. 
SM Houston, C Lebel, T Katzir, FR Manis, GR Rodreguez, ER Sowell

Literacy and lifelong learning
Being able to read well and analyse what is being read encourages people to think for themselves and not rely on popular opinion. Reading helps children develop some of the critical thinking skills necessary for navigating life and lifelong learning.

Reading well and wanting to read means that we can constantly learn new things and develop opinions. Readers allow themselves to be challenged with new concepts and ideas, they can learn independently, interdependently and continuously. When they become older having an ability to analyse what they are reading and access advanced texts helps them succeed at university and beyond. 

Our approach at King’s College International School Bangkok
Reading is central to so much of our work at King’s Bangkok. Children use it all of the time to learn and research. Below are some things we do at King’s Bangkok to ensure that children develop the skills they need in combination with a love of learning. 

Reading starts as a decoding exercise where children learn what the individual sounds look like and sound like until they can blend them together to make words. Related to this is rhyme. EAL children and many others often really struggle with rhyme, but it helps with reading and can be such fun when children finally hear it. Alongside this, children need to understand what they are reading. Very often children read the words, but don’t have the understanding of what they are reading. It is important when children start to read that they can talk about the pictures, even if the story is very simple. This is important to develop their higher order thinking skills. Often, so much emphasis is placed on the mechanics of reading that the meaning of what is being read is neglected, whereas most children will learn the mechanics eventually but not all will understand the real meaning of what is being read and this is the most important part of reading.

When they get a bit older we develop this understanding of texts more as we move into guided reading where children do different reading activities within groups. These include working with the teacher and using books to, for example, find out information or understand inference. We ask questions to help develop these skills. Guided reading supports children with their phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

We have an environment where books are around, where children can look at and read a variety of books and talk about them. Supporting this is our great library where children have access to hundreds of fantastic books. We encourage them to choose what they want to read to help them develop their own interests. Children can access the library in their library lessons, but also before and after school and at lunchtimes. The library is always a buzz of activity, all related to reading. We encourage children to read whenever they get the chance.

All reading is good. Children have preferences in what they like to read. Their preference could be nonfiction, comics, graphic novels, magazines or leaflets. Reading is all worthwhile. We encourage them to read what they enjoy, this instils a love of books.

We also celebrate book week and make children value and enjoy books.

Reading is such an important part of life. Not only does it help us access and understand information and help us continually learn, it also has many hidden benefits that we don’t initially think about and should be part of a child’s all round development. Please do not hesitate to contact us at king’s Bangkok if you have any questions about reading and how we teach it.