I have decided something. According to my experiences in public school, both as a student and as a teacher, I have decided that public school kids are very nearly illiterate. I'm not talking about your kid if you have children in public school. I'm talking about my experience as compared to homeschooling.
This thought first began to form in my brain at the beginning of the summer when I was looking for book lists. I wanted to find suggested lists of children's books so that when we went to the library we didn't wander around and come home with the same old things we always did. Well, during my research I stumbled on a book list from a public school. At the bottom of the list it said something about how the goal of their school district was for each student to read 25 books during the course of the year.
Then, I ran across Sprittibee's list of books read when her children were in first and second grade homeschool. There were 412 books listed!!!!! Folks, that is a huge difference.
So, I thought back to my own experiences as a first grade teacher. I read a big book with the class each day. I probably read another book to them during the course of the morning, and we read a chapter of a chapter book each day after lunch. Other than that, they read "little books" which were leveled books used to teach reading. They are about 8 pages each. Students read anywhere from 2-7 of those a day. Then they had to read some little books for homework. And besides reading directions off the board (which were also read to them) and words off of the word wall, that was about the extent of their reading during the day at school.
When I taught 3rd grade we had D.E.A.R time each day (Drop Everything And Read) but there was no guarantee that students were reading. Mostly they were sitting quietly with a book open because that's what they were told to do. They had reading assignments that we all read together one painful paragraph at a time because there were 22 different reading levels in the room. I read chapters and chapters to them each day after lunch. BUT, that was soon over as more and more classtime was sucked up by the state test. The last few years I taught, I'm not sure those kids heard a story read to them all year. They read reading passages for practice, and they participated in the library incentive reading program. Before that reading program at my school, students were allowed to check out one library book per week which they were not allowed to take home. I'm not even kidding. I took a survey each year I taught and probably only 10% of my class had a library card.
Some of that is because of where I taught. Some of that is a fact of public schools today. Recess was cut to 10 minutes per day. Some teachers would save up and go every other day for 20 minutes so it would even be worth their time to line up at the door. There just was no time for "frivolous" things like recess and reading. It wasn't always like that--but it is now.
I'm not saying parents can't do something about this. Your home can be as literate as you want it to be. I'm just amazed at the difference between homeschooling and what I know of public school.
There is so much more than passing the state test. There is the knowledge gleaned from reading. There is the freedom to browse and choose books just because you are interested in them. There is the love of reading. There is the cuddle factor. There is SO MUCH that is important about reading. Wonder when schools will wake up?