Some educators see silent reading; an extended period where students sit at their desks and read books in silence; as a waste of time.
I’m not one of them. And here’s why.
These days, we don’t do enough to create stillness in people’s lives. Kids can’t self-regulate their thoughts and emotions because they’re uncomfortable with inertia. Mindfulness is replaced with mind-FULL-ness.
Silent reading time calms students after outdoor play- a time where there’s an intensity of social interactions and hyperactivity. It brings heart rates down, centres minds and refocuses children on learning.
It’s also one of the few experiences that caters for the introverted personalities in the classroom. They can gather energy from aloneness and reconnect with their inner selves.
Silent reading also gives students choice. They have control over what they choose to read. Some gravitate towards graphic novels, others joke books or puzzles, others still opt for The Guinness Book of World Records. Young learners get excited about their first forays into the joy that is “chapter books”! Whatever interests them, they can delve into.
Exposure to a variety of texts assists students when creating their own. Those who have seen grammar and structure and accurate spelling on a regular basis experience much more success when asked to incorporate these in their own constructed pieces.
It’s also an opportunity for kids to focus on making meaning from the reading experience. They don’t have to “perform” with perfect fluency and expression, no-one is quizzing them on graphemes and phonemes as they turn each page. They actually get to put all of the reading instruction they’ve received into practice in an independent fashion that is relevant to them. They get to read for pleasure rather than for a test. They get to become avid readers. Huzzah!
Silent reading that happens every day for sustained periods means that children can read chapters and not lose track of, or forget, what they’ve previously covered. It also provides adequate time for kids to really become absorbed in the reading material they’ve chosen.
It’s a marvellous thing to witness a group of learners all silently reading, simultaneously engrossed in their respective texts, their imagination and creativity evident on the expressions on their faces as they move from sentence to sentence.
And that’s not even getting into the research that says students who are involved in independent reading activities for half an hour each day are exposed to millions more words than their counterparts who don’t.
And what do teachers get out of silent reading?
Half an hour each day to listen to their students read individually and to conduct reading assessments.
Time to design differentiated reading tasks and to teach small groups with similar learning gaps or misunderstandings.
It means a teacher can research titles to engage their pupils, or can even sit and read their own novel, modelling and sharing their own passion for reading.
Plus, teachers need quiet time for a healthy head space too. https://ateacherislikeacandle.wordpress.com/2020/08/23/first-aid-for-teachers/
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