Any Brene Brown fans in the house? I can’t tell you how much I love this woman - there isn’t another author who has impacted me as she does. At the heart of her writing is the fact that all people need and desire connection (please know she’s a self-proclaimed introvert!). When we connect from a place of wholeheartedness, we combat shame with empathy; we are brave enough to be vulnerable.
I want that brave, vulnerable connection with my kids! But guys, the truth is that it’s hard!! It’s a daily work in progress. And it changes with ages and stages. But it got easier when I realized that when we read together and discuss books, we’re often our most open and honest selves. With someone else’s words and ideas to guide us, we can talk about the hard stuff, the fun stuff, and make connections in more meaningful ways. With my boys, we get to work on the reading and writing elements of literacy, but also on social and emotional literacy as well.
What the heck does this mean?? It means when we read with kids we have to model reading comprehension strategies that connect thinking and reading and promote conversation about feeling, empathy and how we relate to ourselves and one another.
I work for an edtech company called Achieve3000 which provides students and teachers with a digital platform for literacy building, reading non-fiction text that’s always at each student’s “just-right-fit.” When students read an article in Achieve they have the opportunity to use their “Reading Connections.” Right inside the text, they can stop reading and connect their thoughts to the words. They can write down questions, take notes, or summarize. And we encourage teachers to have students this independently and in collaborative conversations. We want them to be CONNECTING.
Let’s take it analog...my kids’ teachers have taught them to make connections as they read. Think about what you’re reading...can you connect it to another text? Can you connect it to you world? Can you connect it to yourself? How do you talk and write about those connections?
Parents - we can DO THIS! Let’s think of it in 5 Steps…
Just DO IT! Read aloud with your kiddo at least once a day. You’re already connecting physically. You’re present!
Ask questions and make observations. Not on every page - don’t make it feel like homework. Just trigger the thinking and model your own.
Give kids time and space to answer. Teach the value of a thoughtful pause. Don’t give in to “I don’t know.”
LISTEN. And I mean real, active listening. The kind of listening that lets them know you see and hear them. The kind that opens doors for MORE. Introverts: Are you cringing a little? Is silent reading one of the ways you recharge? Here’s how you do this. This last step is good for older kids too…
Respect the quiet. Talk to your kids about the need for quiet, contemplation and recharging. Read independently (both of you). Then re-engage through the four steps above. Step 5 is taking that model and using it to talk about the books your kids read independently, and even the books you read independently! Introverts: this is how you do this!
When it comes right down to it, I believe that putting the value of literacy - not just reading and writing, but also social and emotional literacy - at the heart of my parenting is going to give my kids the keys to their futures. Because, as I told Devin yesterday, book love is real love, and connection is everything!