It is summer and as an advocate of library summer reading clubs and healthy relaxation activities – camps, stay at home vacations, family visits, road trips you name it…I am fully encouraging all to let the children self select the books, comics, graphic novels that they wish to read through; I do however maintain that reading for pleasure is not for everyone- and this is ok. It doesn’t change the fact that as an educator I will be encouraging students to understand how to read for facts- a skill they will require throughout their lives. Reading for “fun” is liking doing anything for “fun”; each of us has some things we prefer to do over other things. I am one who reminds parents that indeed not all will relax with a novel- or a movie, or a pair of skates, or a bike ride etc. As an educator with a focus on reading and writing, my goal is first not to scare anyone away from learning in general, then to encourage my students to grow in whichever aspect suits them best…
Active learning implies engagement on the part of the participant- which is one of the reasons we have a resurgence of formal endorsements to encourage everyone to “play.” For some, reading is a form of play, when the novel allows the reader to imagine different situations and to become concerned about the characters in the story. And this magical transference between author and reader is an activity which takes place inside the brain and which later translates into emotions, some more clearly understood than others. But just as the body requires strength to do certain physical activities the leaps we ask the brain to perform when concentrating on mental or cognitive actions are also exercises, strengthening a particular type of focus.
Currently in Toronto, are the PAN AM games which will be followed by the PARAPAN AM GAMES – when practiced athletes from the American hemisphere convene and demonstrate their courage and ability to perform live at an exercise they have not only honed through continuous practice but which many have simply felt they “had to do.” Readers and writers can be like this too- needing to read more, needing to write more- and in time, needing to share more. Our role as educators is to encourage our learners to take chances, within safe environments to stretch a little further, try something a little more challenging, and to help them, the learners “discover” who they might be and what they want to learn more of. Having written this I realize that many are still hoping that school will be the place where all skills develop- even in 2015 where we as a society have begun to recognize how very much learning can and does take place in non-school environments.
Consider the multiple ways your child engages with life, and add a little reading to this package, then the reading to learn can become real when the child needs to inquire and recognizes some ( not all ) answers may be available through written ( or diagrammed, or graphed or illustrated…) sources. Imagine though learning how to skip a rope via diagrams- or to play the drums, or to swim…and allow for the hands-on experiences which provide balance to the cognitive action.
Reading and the concept of literacy has expanded to encompass the multiple ways we do engage with the world around us- Enjoy the summer!