By Renae Reints
November 15, 2018

Seven in ten teachers believe parents are not involved enough in their child’s education, according to a new survey, compounding on issues like a lack of access to books.

Age of Learning, an education technology and resource company, conducted an online survey of over 1,000 parents (with children ages two to 12) and 1,000 teachers (in preschool to 6th-grade classrooms) to get a better understanding of children’s reading in the U.S. What they found was a dim outlook on young American readers.

According to the data, teachers report 30% of their students are reading below grade level, but only 9% of parents think their child is in that category. Additionally, two thirds of parents don’t know their child’s reading level, making it difficult for them to provide the proper reading materials outside of school.

The vast majority of teachers expect their students to be reading at least 15 minutes outside the classroom, but most students don’t meet this minimum, says Age of Learning. The issue could have to do with access: 10% of teachers said their school does not have a library, and more than half of parents said they have fewer than 50 books of any kind in their home.

Seven out of ten teachers said the cost of books was a problem, with 77% having used their personal funds to buy books for the classroom. Parents, too, cited cost as an obstacle.

With reading being such a foundational skill, these kinds of issues can only diminish a child’s education. According to one survey respondent, a preschool teacher said, “Reading is the first step in education. Only if the child can read will they excel in all other subjects.”

Age of Learning suggests several ways parents can circumvent the issue of access: go to a public library, create a word wall at home, or subscribe to the company’s digital library with thousands of titles for the cost of less than one book per month.

While costs can be avoided or mitigated, however, all exercises take time. Parents are encouraged to ask teachers about their child’s reading level, and spend 15 minutes per day reading with their child (or reward independent reading when the child is able to do so).

A kindergarten teacher who responded to Age of Learning’s survey begged parents to take these steps: “I understand how hard you work, and how tired you are, but please, please work with your child to improve their reading skills,” the teacher wrote. “If your child does not learn how to read, they will have a lifetime of struggling.”

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