My wife Andrea and I have no immediate plans to have children, but the topic has come up a couple of times. One area that we disagree on is the topic of homeschooling.
I personally feel that with the exception of a few awesome teachers I was mostly let down by the public school system. I turned out okay, but that’s mostly because of my rabid desire to learn new things and that was instilled in me by my parents.
One book that I’ve been reading lately is A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille which really opened my eyes. It turns out the most effective teachers I’ve had were doing the things described in this book.
One tactic mentioned under the concept of mentoring is that if you want your kids to love reading, you want to spend more time reading around them so they see you reading and want to read as well. This is explained a bit more in the post Be a Reading Role Model but that made me wonder how this changes in the world of digital publishing.
As of right now I still own a lot of paper books and subscribe to a few paper magazines. However, most of my reading is done on my Kindle and iPad. In 5 years or so when I have a child reaching the reading age, I know that the number of eBooks I have will grow way faster than print books. Who knows how many print books I’ll even have around the house? Will my child be as inspired to read when it’s no longer “Dad’s reading a book” but “Dad’s using his iPad”. Will my child just want to play on the iPad and not care particularly about reading books?
Probably the number one thing that inspired me to read as a kid was our Encyclopedia Britannica. We had a cool set in a custom bookcase with a big atlas in a slot at the top. I spent a ton of time pulling out volumes and looking through them, initially mostly looking at pictures, but then as I learned to read I’d see something that caught my eye and I’d read more about it.
Obviously there are more ways to inspire a child to read then just seeing their parents reading. The main one that comes to mind is reading to your child. My Dad read quite a few books to me and that certainly had an impact. It also would help to discuss what you’re reading to your kids, so no matter what medium I’m reading, I can inspire them to learn more on their own.
I certainly have plenty of time to figure this out. I’m probably over thinking things because current research says that children teach themselves to read. Maybe I’ll just worry about it when the time comes.