Extensive reading: Why is it important?

Students during revision. File.

“My marks were worrying; at some point, I thought I was ‘slow’ because my friends scored highly yet I was always below the pass mark. I wasn’t the kind to sacrifice my sleep for books, but in Senior Five, I thought about reading on my own, I tried but it was all in vain because my grades never improved.

“However, I didn’t give up. I set standards for myself and began reading every after class and I would even wake up at 3am to read what we covered in class. I got a summary book where I noted whatever I read. My grades started improving and my parents were amazed by my performance, they encouraged me to keep up the spirit. My bedroom became a reading room and when it was time for the final exams, I was more than ready. And guess what? I was among the best students in my class,” says Patience Rukundo, a Senior Six leaver.

Like Patience, many students do not have a reading culture, whether it is revision or merely for fun in their free time.

However, reading is essential. Anyone can do revision and excel if they put their mind to it; all one needs is discipline and determination.

Success does not come on a silver platter. So even after a long day of various subjects, one can still make time for personal reading, perhaps after class, or during prep time.

Extensive revision is giving more time for reading and research outside the class setting. How can a student gain from this practice?

Damien Mouzoun, a family and youth counsellor, says ‘Africa is the source of wisdom’ but he wonders why many people still find it hard to build a culture of reading, one that can be instilled in students today.

“Sparing time for revision as a student will lead to success; when learners take on more than their classroom assignments and do research well; chances are they will perform better generally. The extra reading boosts their vocabulary and shows them how different writers pen their thoughts, which leads to better writing skills,” he notes.

He says that teens who read learn to handle complex issues, for instance; they can deal with some of the most difficult people, or situations, in life.

Mouzoun says, “The more students read, the more information they pick up, which leads to a solid base of knowledge that is useful. For example, a teen who reads biographies has a better understanding of prominent people studied about in history classes.”

He urges students to read extensively as it can help them score well in college admission tests. That is to say, no other activity builds the vocabulary and comprehension needed to do well like reading.

Dr Celestin Hategekimana, a lecturer at University of Kibungo, says that extra revision is a great complement to class reading, since the time teachers spend in class is limited and what a teacher passes on is also limited because of the number of hours allocated to a specific course.

“In order to remember what you have read, make reading enjoyable because it comes with many advantages,” he adds.

He urges parents to encourage their children to read by giving them the necessities that they need, like textbooks, and also monitor them, especially those who are easily distracted by television.

Charles Mutazihana, the headmaster at Kigali Parents School, says extensive revision enables students to grasp the content taught in class, especially the topics that they did not understand well.

He adds that students are able to recall what they read or learnt, though it has to be done after the completion of a particular topic or sub-topic.

For extensive revision to be effective, it is advisable to read topic by topic because they guide and prepare you for another topic. That is why students need timetables.

“However, extensive reading in most cases might result into  disappointing results because of poor time management. You might not be able to learn much in a short time, and so time has to be calculated well,” Hategekimana says.

Some students usually have a lot of things to do after classes, like house work; hence failing to spare time for revision, he explains.

Collins Odhiambo, a counsellor and teacher, says reading is the most important subject in education.

He adds that reading extensions improve reasoning and, critical thinking, for instance, as a child reads, they keep asking themselves a number of questions and as a result, they become inquisitive which enhances reasoning.

“Through reading extensions, learners are equipped with a wide range of knowledge, they are also taught how to respond to different questions,” Odhiambo notes.

“Revise your past papers because chances are some questions might be set again. Do corrections for the numbers you failed in all your test papers but, most importantly, make use of your teachers, and ask them all the questions you might find hard to understand, they will help you. Great learners do not give up easily,” Odhiambo advises.

He also urges students to spare some time for exercise before reading as it will boost their minds. They should form discussion groups because it will enable them to learn even more, as opposed to reading on an individual basis.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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