How to Change a Life in 20 Minutes!

rk8_girl12Does this sound familiar? The teacher sends home a note every week asking that parents read with their child for 20 minutes each weeknight.  You are thinking, “Does she not get it?  I have 3 children! I work all day, have to cook dinner, answer the phone, fold laundry, feed the dog, clean the litter box, sign field trip forms, pay bills, and chase a toddler.  Are you kidding me!?!”

There are days when 20 minutes sounds like an eternity, but, let’s take a moment to look at this reading equation mathematically.

John reads 20 minutes five nights of every week;

Sally only reads 4 minutes a night, if at all.

Step 1:  Multiply the minutes per night X 5 times each week.

John: reads 20 minutes X 5 times per week = 100 minutes each week.

Sally: reads 4 minutes X 5 times per week = 20 minutes each week.

Step 2: Multiply the minutes per week X 4 weeks each month.

John: 100 minutes per week X 4 = 400 minutes per month.

Sally: 20 minutes per week X 4 = 80 minutes per month.

Step 3: Multiply the minutes per month X 9 months per school year.

John: 400 minutes per month X 9 months = 3600 minutes per year.

Sally: 80 minutes per month X 9 months = 720 minutes per year.

Step 4: Divide the number of minutes per year by 360 minutes per day to find the number of days spent reading.

John: 3600 divided by 360 = an additional 10 full days of school spent just reading.

Sally: 720 divided by 360 = only 2 additional days of school spent reading.

So, by the end of 8th grade, or 9 academic years: 

John will have spent an additional 90 days reading.  John has gotten the equivalent of an extra  half of a 180 day school year just spent reading!

Sally will have read the equivalent of 18 days, or one tenth of a 180 day school year.

Food for Thought:

  • Which student would you expect to be a better reader?
  • Which student would you expect to be more knowledgeable?
  • Which student would you expect to be a better writer?
  • Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
  • Which student would you expect to be more successful in school?
  • Which student would you expect to conduct a better interview?
  • Which student would you expect to be more successful in LIFE?

So there you have it. Twenty minutes a day can make a big difference and set your child up for success.  Will you do it perfectly?  Probably not.  But if you teach your child to value reading by reading together, you will definitely have a positive result!  You are your child’s most significant role model and I already know that you like to read…you are reading a blog!  My guess is…you’ve got this!

Author: Jennifer C. Walts, Ed.D.

I am a retired educator and School Improvement Specialist.

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