Today, children are more interested in television, video games and chatting on the Internet than they are in reading. Many parents probably would say, in fact, that getting a child to pick up a book is a significant challenge.
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, children spend an average of four to six hours daily watching TV or movies. That doesn’t mean, however, that screen time has to be wasted time. Parents can use TV programs and movies to their advantage – and actually get their children to like reading.
SFK Media Specially for Kids Corp., for instance, has developed a way to help children improve their reading, vocabulary and comprehension skills by watching movies. Reading Movies, part of SFK Media’s ReadEnt learning system, use a technology called Action Captions that makes each word appear on the screen as it is spoken.
The words appear out of the mouths of the speakers in real-time, with no disruption to the flow of the movie. These Action Captions are believed to activate the cognitive elements of the brain so that the development of both reading and spoken language skills takes place naturally.
The idea behind Reading Movies is that kids will develop their reading skills effortlessly – without even knowing it.
When I first put the Reading Movies in, my kids sat down in front of the TV to view it and I was in awe, said Annetta Jones, an educator and reading specialist in Florida. They became so caught up in the entertaining action of the movie that they did not even realize that they were reading out loud.
Reading Movies are based on such timeless classics as The Trojan Horse, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Tales of Gulliver’s Travels.
The movies have proven to help children at all reading levels reinforce vocabulary and related concepts, according to SFK Media. In fact, a single interactive Reading Movie can be used again and again over a period of years to develop different sets of skills.
With this program, I see a world where parents might say, ‘Stop hanging around playing, go and watch a movie you need to improve your reading,’ said Ronald Brown, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Sunderland in England.