24 June 2012

Reading habits in children

A recent survey showed that a significant per centage of Chennai's school going children suffer from obesity. It is nothing unexpected, considering the amount of time children spend in front of TV and computer. Those of us who are in teaching would know well that many children do not perform well in school because of the same reason. I think that the fault lies in parents and not in children.

(During my tenure as school principal, I have interviewed numerous parents who complained that their children didn't study well. Following is an excerpt  from  such an  interview:
  • Parent: Sir, we have given a seperate room for my children to study. But still, I find that they don't do well in  their studies. It worries us.
  • School principal: Do they watch TV or sit in front of the computer for a long time?
  • Parent: Not at all. We never allow them to watch TV or be at the computer. We are very strict with them. We see to it that children go to  their study and concentrate on their work; we monitor them too.
  • School principal: When they are in their study, what do you do?
  • Parent: We watch TV, check our email at our PC or chat on skype. However, we see to it that our children do their school work at this time.
After some counselling, I have seen  such parents accepting to sacrifice their TV/Computer time for  their children's sake and coming back  to tell me as to how effective my advice had been). 

Though entertainment electronics in general  and TV/Computer in particular have brought immense benefits, they are also capable of wielding very negative influence if abused. Research studies have proved beyond doubt that the time spent in front of TV or Computer has a positive correlation with couch potato attitude and obesity. Thanks to public awareness campaigns, worried parents and teachers like the trend to be reversed ( to `back to books').

(As I wrote in my post on 13 November last year, we were motivated into reading good books. Our reading habit helped in improving our linguistic skills significantly).

This afternoon, I happened to read a very informative and thought provoking article on this issue. I wish all parents and school managements read such articles and implement the ideas so that children can be on  a better track.

(When I was working in PREPARE, a Chennai based NGO, we had the pleasure of observing how children's learning improved after their parents began listening to their children reading aloud, in a remote village in Orissa. Parental involvement in children's learning in any possible way brings its own rewards).

By the way, good stories not only motivate children into reading but also help them in many other ways as mentioned in this article.

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About Me

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Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I am a retired K-12 Education Management Professional. I have worked at different levels in K-12 school systems, textbook publishing, elearning and Education NGOs. I have held memberships in The Association for Science Education (UK), American Association of Physics Teachers and The Malaysian Institute of Physics. I hold a 1st class B Sc Degree in Physics followed by B Ed [English and Physical Science] and M A [Childcare and Education] degrees. My published works include 59 articles in teacher development magazines in India and the US and a book entitled `Creative Classrooms and Child Friendly Schools' (listed in Amazon). This book is almost an anecdotal account of my professional experience in six countries (including Cambodia where I worked as Technical Adviser to the Ministry of Education, Youth And Sports). I served as mentor in the Certificate of Teaching Mastery Program offered by Teachers Without Borders.