What is Independent Reading?
There are several strategies when it comes to helping children develop a strong foundation of literacy skills. A particular aid in the development of a child's ability to read is independent reading. The concept itself is very simple; however the benefits that could potentially arise from applying it are incredibly important.
The idea of independent reading is one of the upmost simplicity; let children partake in reading on their own. Allowing the child to engage in reading of their own accord, is something that has received widespread recognition. It is believed that such a strategy as independent reading can draw an indefinite line between a child developing strong foundations in literacy, or setting themselves up for a foreseeable future of struggle.
For a child to be engaged in independent reading, there are no rules. There are no specifications towards what kind of reading material the child is using. The choices could range from storybooks to magazines, comics to newspapers, fiction or non-fiction. However, the key idea behind this strategy is that the child actively wants to be reading.
Granted, not every child will spontaneously decide to engage in flicking through the latest copy of 'The New York Times'. However, this is nothing to worry about, as it is not the expectation. As much as independent reading is not guided by a parent or teacher, encouraging the child to create that mind set of wanting to read does not go against the ideal of the strategy. In doing this, an adult is essentially planting the seed that will grow into the child's interest and pleasure in reading.
It could easily be argued that in leaving the child to their own devices when reading, you are leaving them with a huge margin of error to fall into bad habits. In failing to supervise, the likelihood of creating more confusion when reading would surely increase? In some respects this could be a recognizable concern, however the evidence emitted through the application of this method begs to differ.
The long term benefits that can emerge from independent reading are quite astounding. For a start, the child begins to develop better word recognition, pronunciation, fluency and above all a far more extensive vocabulary. Not only are these skills being developed, but they are somehow being developed independently, as opposed to a child being metaphorically 'force fed' the methods in a classroom.
Other rewards that come from independent reading are perhaps less mechanical. It is something as basic as encouraging a child's imagination and inspiration. All sorts of reading can bring about a vast increase in a child's ability to be creative in all respects; particularly when it comes to writing themselves.
In addition to all these factors, independent reading can provoke a child's interest in a particular topic - and in turn - could sculpt a future hobby or career idea. All of these factors equate to a child developing knowledgeable and educated grasps of literacy. This in turn will leave them with a far better understanding of everything that occurs in the society they grow up in.