Updated: Apr 29
by Tim Tibbitts
Dear parents of future 11th and 12th graders—here’s a conversation we should have now! One of my favorite parts of my job is, of course, talking with parents who have heard The Whole Kid does great work and who are calling for some help. But here’s a request I receive way too often:
“My kid’s ACT [or SAT] score is pretty good, but the score on the Reading section is dragging down the composite. S/he is taking the test again next month. Is there any way you can help?”
The short answer is … sure. In just a few sessions we can make sure the student is approaching the Reading section with a sound strategy, introduce a few approaches worth trying, and offer some structure and guidance to her independent practice in the weeks leading up to the test.
The better answer, the one that’s always lurking in my brain during these calls, is…
“Why didn’t you call me two years ago?!?!?”
Improving reading comprehension and efficiency is a long-term proposition, and one that would be worth investing in even if high-pressure, timed standardized tests didn’t exist.
If you have even mild concerns that your son or daughter struggles with reading—or hates reading—stop reading this blog post and call me right now (216-235-3115). I’m not kidding. Don’t wait until your junior gets his/her PSAT scores back in December and then decide to look into taking some steps to improve the verbal score. Now is the time.
Seriously, if you have questions or concerns, feel free to call me and I’d be delighted to help you think through your child’s situation and point you to great resources. In the meantime, here are a few easy ways you can help your kids become better, stronger, more worldly readers, and boost those future ACT/SAT scores as well. All of these suggestions are based on my maxim that:
THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE ON THE ACT (or SAT) IS TO READ THREE ARTICLES EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT FAIL.
Make a strong habit of reading three articles/day every day yourself! Even in the age of Instagram, parents are a kid’s primary role model for what’s important.
Go back to getting a print newspaper delivered to the home and make sure the paper makes it to the breakfast table. The New York Times (in you lean left), the Wall Street Journal (if you lean right)—or both if you want your kids to practice sifting through a range of perspectives and thinking critically for themselves.
Show your kids how to read the newspaper. Introduce them to the Op-Ed section. The Book Review. Travel.
Buy a subscription to at least two print magazines—and leave them where people can bump into them. (Bathrooms are a great place for magazines to sneak up on unsuspecting readers.) Keep it simple: order Time (for what used to be called “current events”), Sports Illustrated (for good quality writing about…well…sports), and something like Scientific American or Smithsonian (for a little stretch and a few charts & graphs).
I know, I know.“But we get our news online!”
Call me, I’d be delighted to discuss why in the digital age having a newspaper at the breakfast table still matters.