Give Your Learner a Leg Up This Fall


By Susan McLester

As instruction resumes this fall, many parents and teachers are understandably nervous about exactly where their students stand academically. The abrupt closing of schools last spring and the sudden need to implement online instruction at the end of the year was confusing for some students and families.

A key way to ensure your learner either catches up or exceeds academically is to encourage reading, especially during this time when many kids have less busy schedules than before the quarantine.

Here are three compelling research-based benefits of reading for students:

Early childhood readiness. According to researchers from the University of Michigan, fostering curiosity can be key to early childhood success in reading and math. The report says curious students may benefit in their academics, especially those from economically challenged circumstances. Teachers and parents can encourage this curiosity by finding reading materials on subjects interesting to their children. One place to look is here: 25 Ways Kids Can Read Free eBooks.

Science Daily reports that children who are not read to at home begin kindergarten with a “million word gap” disadvantage over those whose parents read them five books or more a day as young children.

Knowledge-Building. Research shows that reading comprehension depends mainly on knowledge and a knowledge-­related vocabulary acquired through exposure to a variety of content areas. Without broad knowledge, student scores on reading tests will not improve. Studies also show content knowledge improves scores on all areas of benchmark tests.

For boys, especially adolescent boys, who are normally not as drawn to reading as girls, the National Education Association suggests finding reading material that meets their needs of immediacy, text variety and competence. Many boys want to know how the material is relevant to their lives, want to select their own reading topics, and can get a boost when the text is at the right reading level. Newsela, is a site that allows users to customize the reading complexity of news stories.

Mental Health: The American Academy of Pediatrics  states that reading changes children’s brains for the better.  Because children are often anxious and sometimes have learning disabilities, reading, especially with a parent, can keep their brains engaged and help prevent mental illness. During this time of the virus, uncertainty and anxiety are at increased levels for many children as they deal with fears and an unsettled future. Getting lost in an interesting book can have a very calming effect.

Whether your learner is advanced, a struggling reader or somewhere in between, he or she can benefit from a boost in reading skill mastery. Through October, MindPlay is offering users 10 % off their multimedia skill-building program, MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach. Instruction is based on proven science of reading principles, can be used independently and targets K12 learners of all skill levels. Visit: and enter promo code BACKTOSCHOOL to receive discount at checkout.


Susan McLester is a consultant for the MindPlay online literacy solution, an education journalist and former educator.