Our habits of reading are the avenue by which we develop an expert reading brain. Cognitive science tells us that the brain circuitry for reading develops through the action and practice of reading. These pathways in the brain then become a practiced and established element of our thinking capacity. As students progress through Senior School, reading can become the activity that is sometimes sacrificed for other demands upon their time. However recent studies have shown that an expert reading brain is better able to connect to information more fluently, allowing more time to devote to the higher level thinking required in any given task. So the student who has an expert reading brain will more likely be ahead in reading and understanding any given task in an exam situation, for example, than the non-expert reader. This reading brain is something that does not develop because of a genetic inheritance; rather it must be practised and established by each individual to ensure the brain circuitry is created in the first place.
The evidence from a study conducted by Professor Natalie Phillips from Michigan State University in 2012 shows that the brain is involved in complex cognitive interactions when reading literary fiction in particular. Phillips’ study demonstrates how important it is that students maintain a habit and practice of reading to be able to benefit from the cognitive development that occurs in the expert reading brain. This concept of deliberate practice is what we are highlighting in the MyRead program. To enable this, students are reading in homeroom for one session a week, without any other distractions. This behaviour and deliberate practice is just the beginning of a habit we want students to continue and to build upon in order to utilise the full potential of their brains by enabling deeper thinking across multiple areas of the brain. If reading has not been prioritised recently as a learning behaviour for your daughter, we encourage you to have a conversation with her about supporting this move towards building a strong reading culture so that she can maintain and develop this habit and learning behaviour at home as well as at school.
We have launched some special programs to support this endeavour:
- ‘One Book, One Room’ project
- Personal Shopper Cards – students are able to tell us about their interests and past reading habits and the LRC provides a selection of books they will very probably enjoy!
- Promotional displays including links to books that can be borrowed on devices are displayed around the School
Click here to see the film clip which was shown to the students in assembly to highlight the impact distractions have on your brain while you are trying to learn.