When children are young, parents and pediatricians focus on the developmental milestones, which are by all means important. At some point, certain reading skills, such as the ability to pronounce sounds and word recognition, become critical factors in achieving cognitive growth.
However, reading is a versatile skill that crosses several milestones; notably academic milestones. I tend to refer to academic milestones quite a bit when I talk to elementary and middle school parents about high school preparation, considering I spent thirty years as a secondary school counselor. As a high school counselor, my mission was to nurture and encourage the intellectual talent that was in my caseload and prepare them for “life after high school.”
Many elementary and middle school students are identified as “gifted/talented (GT)” and register for numerous honors high school classes; however, after the first several weeks of freshman year, their placement level must be changed due to lack of proficient performance. Yes, it is a disappointment for both the student and parents, but if academic improvement is expected, a new course of action must occur.
The significance of self-esteem is also critical because the high school student compares academic success to personal success; it’s a teenage thing, understandably so. My graduate training in mental health counseling would not allow me to ignore the positive correlation with my constituents.
Reading, as an early intervention, is very important to school success. Not just in the early years of education, but until the highest level is achieved. As a life skill, you can pretty much count on its necessity until one succumbs to the end of cognitive function.
Don’t limit reading skills to a reading class; children and teens need to be able to read in math and science classes too. In order to follow directions in text format, they must be able to read so they will know what to do. If the math test or homework consists of “reading problems,” they must be able to read, understand the objective(s), and then solve the question. Reading is a function in analytical reasoning, not just concrete aptitude.
Encourage your child to read; it’s a great investment. Be a good role model and let your child observe you reading. The early intervention helps build confidence in, and appreciation for reading, as well as an increased vocabulary, comprehension, and aptitude for academic success. And if you want your child to get a free critical reading preparation for college admission exams, promote the value of reading early.
If you suspect your child is not mastering academic milestones, consult with the school, just as you would with your pediatrician for medical concerns. It is true that some delayed skills eventually develop without challenges; however, some may require more extensive intervention.