Physicians prescribe reading to help promote literacy

reading-picSource: Wireservice.ca and elfnb.com

Physicians in Canada are writing out prescriptions for reading to help benefit the health of children.

The New Brunswick Medical Society and Elementary Literacy Inc. are encouraging parents to read to, and with, their children. They recommend reading for at least twenty minutes every day, and are helping families achieve this aim in a unique manner: by delivering prescription pads focused on reading to family physicians and paediatricians.

Studies show that children who read for twenty minutes per day score in the 90th percentile of their class, whereas those who read for five minutes per day score in the 50th percentile. A child who reads for twenty minutes per day starting in nursery school will have read for the equivalent of sixty school days by the time they move to primary school – a notable advantage over a child who reads for only five minutes per day, which would total only twelve school days over the length of their education.

“Though the benefits of reading are well known, offering a tangible prescription has been proven to help patients commit to better habits, versus a verbal suggestion,” said Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, President-elect of the New Brunswick Medical Society.

Elementary Literacy Inc. is a charitable organisation that manages the delivery of two volunteer reading achievement programs for striving readers. Their programs bring together community volunteers, schools and parents for ensuring children are reading at grade level by the end of the school year. Children who are not reading at grade level by the end of grade 2 experience significant difficulty in school and often fall further and further behind with each year of schooling.

The organisation collects information on student reading levels, as measured by the classroom teacher using a levelled reading system adopted province-wide, both immediately before and after participating in the ‘Elementary Literacy Friends’ program. Teachers also report on students’ reading interest, stamina and confidence. Analyses of the data reveal that ELF students are making positive and significant gains over the ten-week mentoring period.

“Reading to your child every day helps develop their language and literacy skills, prepares them for school and sets them up for success,” said Dr. Erin Schryer, Executive Director of Elementary Literacy Inc.

Feedback from participating schools and teachers are highly positive, indicating they are satisfied offering ELF and CLEF (‘Communautés littératie enfants francophones’) in their schools and importantly, based on their observation, ELF students improve across their literacy skills, attitudes toward reading and general classroom behaviour.

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