March has arrived and many will have celebrated Baleares Day and of course International Women’s Day. Although the weather today is not very spring like as I write we have had a fairly pleasant February but further hope is here that as the new month comes in the sun will begin to shine brighter than ever and there will be a feeling of rejuvenation about us.
From an academic point of view March is a particularly busy time, leading up to the Easter break. Easter is an important time where students take the opportunity to take a break from the rigours of the school year. It comes after a long term and one where many students are madly preparing for examinations. A very intense period for some; IGCSE, A level and IB examinations begin mid April and carry on until June and Selectivdad runs in early June where they can of course this year.
From us all at MTA we wish those students who are focused during this period upon their revision, the very best. Stay calm, follow the rules for good study skills and read the questions carefully.
As part of this week’s notable dates we are celebrating World Doctor Seuss day. This led me to remember that it was also World Book Day recently in the UK on March 4th this year and in Spain later in April. Not to let technology be forgotten of course, it was also ‘Read an ebook week’ from 1st March – 7th March
If you are a regular reader of my column you will know by now that we love reading at MTA and we celebrate World Book Day annually with our English First and Second Language students. We love making fabulous and inviting displays together with some very interesting book reviews.
It is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and - most importantly it’s a celebration of reading. It’s the biggest celebration of its kind, designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading, and marked in over 100 countries all over the world.
Having such a celebration recognised at schools in many countries is fantastic and can act as a great opportunity to encourage our children to start a new book. It may not be that easy of course as many remain reluctant readers but it is important that we understand the benefits of engaging our children with stories and novels.
Back in 2013 research conducted by the Institute of Education (IOE) concluded 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 at Mallorca Tutoring Academy we constantly encourage all of our students to read for pleasure. Particularly when they are reading in their second language. We have a wonderful library facility and have recently added even more books.
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.
Although a recent study carried out by the National Literacy Trust, who questioned 32,000 pupils aged 8 to 18 gave more positive indicators, however 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.
Reading should be a shared experience between parent and child in order to divest a love of books from an early age. Ensure your child sees you reading regularly whether it’s a book, a newspaper or a magazine as it will instil a love of reading for pleasure.
During and after reading a book, talk about the story and take time to discuss the ideas in the book in order to ensure a greater understanding.
With so many great titles and new editions I can’t list them all but take a look on the web page https://www.worldbookday.com and you may find one or two that would tempt even the more reluctant reader.
Remember we have own great book emporium with Kay’s Universal Bookshop in Portals. Take a visit I’m sure you will find lots of amazing titles.
Of course, for many of you, your children who are educated in the Spanish system and therefore we should not overlook the importance for them to read in their second language. Alice, our Spanish and Catalan tutor here at MTA is just as passionate that her students read for pleasure too.
Easter is also a very important time to continue to practise these skills at home, sitting on the beach or in the sunshine.
So for now hard back or electronic versions, there has never been a better time to get our children reading! Just 30 minutes each day. It would be great not to just turn to the IPAD or social media.
Remember the moral of the story is that whatever language you read in, the benefits are outstanding.
Use this time wisely and you will see these benefits manifest themselves in all areas of your child’s education.