I simply can’t believe there are only 3 weeks left before Christmas! Where has this year gone? As I write it is December 5th and I have not prepared any lists, have no presents in mind and no shopping done!
It is likely that our adult perspective is about stress and running out of time whereas for a student, like my own daughter, they will just be excitedly looking forward to the holidays, having fun, eating, drinking and generally chilling out.
The essence of the perfect school holiday; a magical break after a gruelling schedule of examinations and an extended period of liberty without the restrictive rules or regulation of school.
From an academic point of view, the end of the autumn term is a busy and often stressful time where many students have to keep their minds on the impending mock examinations when they return to school immediately after the Christmas period. However, whilst I know it is a really busy time of year, I will wager that there will be plenty of downtime for students, when they will have chance to catch up with a few Christmas movies, games and generally relax.
I fully endorse a little relaxation but it is one activity that I still think we need to champion. Therefore I continue with my constant campaign for capturing opportunities to encourage our children to start a new book just to keep the cogs going whilst still having fun. Rest is important to recharge the batteries but a little academic activity does no harm.
Back in 2013 research conducted by the Institute of Education (IOE) concluded by that children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers. At the time this study was believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time.
The analysis found that children who read for pleasure between the ages of 10 and 16 made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling than those who rarely read.
Dr Alice Sullivan, who conducted the work with Matt Brown, noted that reading for pleasure had the strongest effect on children’s vocabulary development but the impact on spelling and maths was still significant.
‘It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help improve a child’s maths score’ she said ‘ But, it is likely that a strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.’
Dr Sullivan says that this study underlines the importance of encouraging children to read, even in the digital age. ‘There are concerns that young people’s reading has declined. There could be various reasons for this; including more time spent in organised activities, more homework and of course more time on line.’ she said.
Here within the MTA group we constantly encourage all of our students to read for pleasure. Particularly when they are reading in their second language.
Our reasons are not just about academic performance; it is critical vocabulary development that the learner needs for everyday life. In addition we support reading because:
- It increases a sense of achievement, confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness.
- It widens horizons.
- It develops relationships, promotes inclusion and empathy through sharing opinions and ideas.
- It prevents boredom and promotes relaxation.
A recent study carried out by the National Literacy Trust, who questioned 32,000 pupils aged 8 to 18 gave more positive indicators. Two thirds of the children questioned said that they had a favourite work in fiction. There was also an increase in the proportion who said they read daily outside the classroom from 32.3% in 2013 to 41.1% in 2014.
Much work is still to be done. Too many boys still seem disinterested in reading, and far, far too many children simply never become readers at all.
Everyone must play their part. Writers, storytellers, parents, teachers and governments should remember that literacy must first and foremost be enjoyed if we are to engage our most reluctant readers.
So now, during the 2020 Christmas period, there has never been a better time to get our children reading! Just 30 minutes each day.
I would recommend a visit to Kay’s (Universal Bookshop in Portals) Facebook page where you can see that she has some great new titles available.
Take a look at https://www.facebook.com/UniversalBookshop/ or of course drop by in person. It’s a great way to spend some time, browsing through new and old titles that take your fancy.
A few that took my eye were:
- Promise Bound – Anne Greenwood Brown
- Ferret Fun in the Sun – Karen Rostoker Gruber
- The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater
Of course here at our Majorca office our library goes from strength to strength, here are a few titles we have on our shelves:
- Listen to the Moon – Michael Morpurgo
- The Fault in our Stars – John Green
- Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
- The World’s Worst Children – David Walliams
- Alex Rider – Anthony Horowitz
- Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan
Of course, for many of us we have children who are educated in the Spanish system and therefore we should not overlook the importance for them to read in their second language. Judith, our Spanish and Catalan tutor here at MTA is just as passionate that her students read for pleasure too. Any holiday is a very important time to continue to practise these skills
She has given us some of her favourite titles for you:
- Uno de elefantes – Jorge Acame
- Miedo – Graciela Cabal
- Nadie quiere jugar conmigo – Gabriela Keselman
- Todos los osos son zurdos – Ignacio Padilla
So the moral of the story is that whatever language you read in, the benefits are outstanding.
Put a real book on your list for Santa right now!
‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.” - Alan Bennett