This article is the twelfth in a series that summarizes and reflects upon the Ontario Ministry of Education 2009 document Me Read? And How!
The twelfth strategy advocated for improving boys’ reading:
Drive the Point Home
Bringing “the family and the school closer together” is accepted as an important practice during the early grades; however, it continues to be important for young adults. According to the document, “research shows that parental involvement can result in: improved student achievement; reduced absenteeism; better behaviour; [and] increased confidence among parents with respect to their children’s schooling” (71). To make connections with the home, trust must be built. There must be positive, inviting opportunities for communication. It’s also important for the school and the home to plan for the students’ academic success.
Schools can have parents volunteer for reading programs, thus providing role models for students. Since parents don’t always know what to do to encourage reading and the development of reading skills, some schools have provided literacy kits to families; such kits should outline how parents can support literacy development at home and contain materials that they can read to their children. This strategy overlaps with finding male reading role models because if connections are made with the home, it will be easier to “recruit male volunteers” (71) to read to boys in a school reading program. Getting dads into the schools to volunteer, is as important as getting the moms there!
Home-school activities are also recommended. For instance, as an alternative to homework, create a school-wide program where students choose books from the school library, take them home to read, and complete a reading log to track their progress. Students should be able to read books that are at their reading level as reading books that are more than two grades above their reading level (true reading level and not actual grade level) will not result in improved reading skills. Another such program included “small manipulatives such as finger puppets, plastic figures, or small toys relating to the story to increase interest and focus conversation about the story” (72).
Listening to boys is significant to their reading development as they need time to silently reflect and other time to talk; it’s important to encourage them to express a full range of emotions as you give them your complete attention and listen to their ideas. Find ways to connect with your boy(s) as they need to talk about what they are learning/reading.
Special reading events at the school are also a good way to encourage reading. For example, a school could have an event where parents are invited to come to lunch and read with their child. Such special events are generally well-received.
The Ontario Ministry of Education has developed materials for parents to help their children become better readers. Visit the “Tips and Tools for Parents” web page for free materials.
Teachers should ask themselves the following questions:
- How can I support parents so that we can become literacy partners?
- How can I show parents that their involvement and interest is crucial to their boys’ success?
Next Boys’ Literacy Strategy: #13 – Build a School-Wide Focus