Simple Ways To Help Children Develop Early Reading Skills
Very young children love being read to. Even at an early age, children enjoy storytelling sessions that teach them something new and incite their imagination. Thus, it comes as no surprise that 50% of children between the ages of 3 and 8 choose reading with their parent as their favourite thing to do, as a recent research revealed.
This is a really good thing as it shows that parental involvement in their child’s reading process actually paves the way to help kids become strong readers. According to the article "Reading aloud to children: the evidence" by E.Duursma, M.Augustyn and B.Zuckerman, reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emergent literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent. “In addition, it can promote a love for reading which is even more important than improving specific literacy skills,” the article adds.
Benefits of Early Reading
There are definitely multiple benefits to teaching a child read early. For starters, when it comes to education, it is the key to academic success. Reading helps kids become more scholastically competent in the future – there are studies that show early readers tend to obtain higher grades than their peers. But apart from this, literacy skills also help children have better focus, improve the way they learn and cultivate in them a love for knowledge.
The benefits do not just stop here, though. There are also other advantages ranging from linguistic abilities to neurological and psychological benefits2:
- Linguistic and communication: Children will develop enhanced linguistic skills in terms of improved writing, grammar and better spelling as well as having a richer vocabulary and being more articulate verbally – all of which gives them better communication skills.
- Neurological: Reading helps develop a young child’s brain and has significant influence in the functioning of their brain.
- Psychological: Reading instills independence and self-confidence. It ignites creativity and imagination in children and satisfies their curiosity about the things around them.
Simple but Effective Ways to Help Your Young Children Read
Every night, Maria S., mother of three-year old Danush would read him a story. It has become one of Danush's favourite bedtime routines and he can only sleep after Maria has finished the book. "No matter how tired I am, I make sure I read to Danush every night," Maria shares. "He loves stories about animals and cars, so I choose books with those themes to maintain his interest and teach him new words."
While these are relatively simple steps, they are actually effective in helping a child develop early reading skills. In fact, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends daily reading to children beginning at six months of age. This shows that parents play a pivotal role in cultivating strong reading skills in their young children.
Fortunately, like the example above, there are numerous ways parents can help their children to learn to read – all in the comfort of their own homes:
- Read to them: According to a study by the National Research Council (1998), reading regularly to children contributes to their later reading achievement. When you spend time reading a storybook to your little one, he or she learns new words and improves language skills. All this helps your child to develop stronger literacy abilities when they are older.
- Read aloud: Have your child read aloud to you and correct them when they get the pronunciation of certain words wrong. If they do not understand the stories they read, take them through the book again and slowly explain the gist.
- Read more yourself: Young children model after the behaviour and habits of their parents or caregivers. If you read frequently in front of them, it will encourage them to read more as well.
- Have a “Read-o-clock” daily: Schedule in an hour everyday as reading time and have everyone in the family read a book, magazine or the newspaper. Switch off the TV, tablets or smartphones and make this time sacred. This will encourage your child to see the value of reading and help them develop a love for reading.
- Home libraries: Create more opportunities for reading at home. Stock up your bookshelves with children's books and make sure they are easily accessible.
- Choose the right books: To keep your child excited and interested in reading, get books that are age-appropriate. Also, opt for books that come with themes that your child likes and is familiar with – for example, animals, airplanes, dolls and everyday objects.
- Talk about books: Talk to your children about their favourite books and why they love them. You can also talk about the books you enjoyed reading when you were young. When you read together, discuss the story with your child. Ask questions and have them think about the stories. This will generate more meaningful experiences when your children learn to read.
- Spot the words: When your child is familiar with certain words, you can turn their attention to those words that you see around you. For instance, if you are at the supermarket, point out the names of fruits or vegetables printed on labels and have your child read them out loud. These exercises further strengthen their vocabulary and help them appreciate reading as a lifelong everyday skill.
- Educational toys and games: From "edutainment" toys and computer programs to homemade learning materials, there are many fun and playful ways to support your child's reading process. For example, you can prepare a tray filled with sand and teach your child to write letters and words on it. You can even get pasta that comes in alphabet shapes and teach your child the ABCs. For those who like using the computer, there are many word games that you can download from the Internet. Alternatively you can also shop for reading-themed toys.
1Children's Early Reading: How Parents' Beliefs about Literacy Learning and Their Own School Experiences Relate to the Literacy Support They Provide for Their Children,ProQuest, 2008
2 Start Early, Finish Strong: How to Help Every Child Become a Reader - July 1999