Magazine article Working Mother

Order Helps Readers

Magazine article Working Mother

Order Helps Readers

Article excerpt

Once upon a time, you read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to your daughter so many times that you're still inclined to eat one apple on Monday and two pears on Tuesday. But now that she's "big" and in grade school, reading aloud to her has succumbed to homework, hip-hop dance classes and - admit it - Hannah Montana. You know that reading to kids knows no age limit and can get them to read more on their own. Your story now: guilt.

Lighten up, and realize that other factors encourage literacy skills. A surprising one: the way you tend to your home. Household order (though not household quiet) is strongly associated with early reading ability, according to a study of young school-age children at the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) at Teachers College in New York City. This may include cleanliness, organization and the presence of family routines. Also surprising? This study found no link between how often a child is read to and early reading skill.

It may be that an organized, neat living space improves a child's focus (though it's not clear why quiet doesn't do the same). Since kids benefit from predictability and consistency, it's possible that children in orderly households are better able to learn because they're more relaxed and secure and can concentrate on books or other educational tools, suggests NCCF coordinator and study coauthor Anne Martin, DrPH. On the flip side, feelings of confusion or uncertainty can interrupt learning, so a lack of organization may hamper reading development. And there are other explanations: "It could be that household order indicates an underlying parent characteristic like conscientiousness or the ability to plan, and this may affect the home literacy environment," adds Dr. …

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