29 October, 2019

Reading to Children from a Young Age

Reading to children from a young age is important to help them succeed later in life.

Many studies show that toddlers and pre-schoolers who are read to every day have a larger vocabulary than those who aren’t read to at all. Not only does reading enhance a child’s vocabulary, it helps them understand how to read and write. Reading aloud to children also helps them to understand different topics of the world and everyday life. Below are some benefits to reading to your child, highlighting just how important it is.

Reading helps develop language skills

While children hear words through conversations that are had, generally the vocabulary that we use is limited and repetitive. Reading allows them to hear a larger range of words for a variety of different topics, most of which they would not hear on a day to day basis. The more words children know and potentially can recognise the better.

Reading sets children up for life

Reading broadens your knowledge and knowledge is power as the saying goes. The more you read to your child, the more knowledge they absorb, and knowledge is important in all aspects of life. Studies have shown that reading to babies and toddlers gives them a head start and helps prepare them for school. Reading to and with your child gives them the skills they will need to learn to read themselves.

Enhances Concentration skills

Reading to babies and toddlers can be challenging at times, they like to turn the pages, close the book, swap books mid story or want you to make the story as you go. These are all developmentally appropriate, however with persistence and consistency in your reading routine children soon learn how valuable reading is. They will learn to sit for longer period and concentrate on the story, they may even repeat the words after you or better still ‘read’ the story back to you. Once at school children need to be able to concentrate for long periods of time, so the more you encourage the sitting and reading the more likely they are to learn this skill.

Reading encourages enquiry

As you read to a child, they may ask you questions about the book or about what is happening in the book which also may lead to further storytelling or comparisons to their own life experiences. This enquiry shows a thirst for more knowledge and gives a change to further develop language skills and potentially all areas of development depending on what questions they ask and how you follow on from these questions. For example; you are reading Goldilocks and the Three Bears and you child says that they have never had porridge before what does it taste like? This is a great opportunity to talk about what it tastes like, talk about whether you ate it as a child or even cook porridge together for breakfast the next morning. The learning that could potentially come from a simple question is unmeasurable.

Reading develops a child’s imagination and creativity

One of the great benefits of reading with children is watching their growing imagination. When we really engage in a book, we imagine what the characters are doing. We imagine the setting as reality. When reading use different voices, different tones and show the emotions in the book through.

Seeing the excitement on a child’s eyes when they know what is going to be on the next page or having them guess what is going to happen is one of the most amazing things to experience.

Reading books with children helps to develop empathy

The importance of reading can also be shown when children develop empathy. When a child can put himself into the story this can happen. They identify with characters, and they feel what they are feeling. Children begin to understand and relate to emotions. Use these times as opportunities to further talk about emotions and how the characters might be feeling. Ask your child if they ever felt that emotion and ask them to talk about what made them feel that feeling.

Reading together helps to create a bond

Spending time with one another, reading, and talking, can bring parents closer to your children.

For parents who work, or have a busy lifestyle, relaxing with your child and simply enjoying each other’s company while reading can be a great way for you both to wind down, relax, and bond. Take your time reading, allow the child to choose the book and enjoy the special moments that come from reading to your child.

Some important tips for reading with young children

  • Read together every day, even just for a few minutes
  • Choose books about events in your child’s life i.e.; going to school, going to the dentist, getting a new pet, moving to a new house etc
  • Label parts of the book like the cover page, the spine the pages etc
  • Talk to your children about the author/illustrator and what they each do
  • Allow your child to turn the pages
  • As you read, use your finger to point to the word as you read them, this encourages them to visually see the words and learn about reading left to right.
  • Be interactive, use expression and different tones to go with the story
  • Ask questions throughout the book, allow your child to ask questions
  • Let your child retell the story, let them compare it to their own experiences
  • Visit your local library often
  • Most of all relax and have fun

“The more that you read, the more you will know, the more that you know, the more places you will go” DR Seuss


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