Did you know that children develop more rapidly during the first 5 years of their lives than at any other time? It’s true. That’s why this crucial period is known as the foundation years.
And if you nurture certain skills during these first 5 years, you create a solid foundation from which your child can build on for the rest of their life. Think of it as giving them a head start to learning.
Literacy is one of those skills that parents can nurture in those early years. Why literacy? A study from the Ohio State University on the importance of reading books, showed that children who are read to in the first five years of life, have a 1.4 million word advantage over children who are not read to at home.
Continue to learn more about the top benefits of reading to children and how reading can support them for the future!
Reading to your children at a young age stimulates brain cells, and strengthens them. Stimulating your young child’s brain cells through these early experiences will help them to become better listeners, readers, and communicators as well as instilling a lifelong love of learning.
Reading daily to young children, starting in infancy, can help with language acquisition, communication skills, social skills, and literacy skills. This is because reading to your children in the earliest months stimulates the part of the brain that allows them to understand the meaning of language and helps build key language, literacy and social skills.
When children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, a wider range of vocabulary, they are more fluent readers, and they have improved attention spans and better concentration. As well as stronger oral and literacy skills, proficiency in reading also allows young children to understand more, to learn more, and to become competent researchers. As you can imagine, all of these are skills that help young children perform higher in school.
Reading a favorite book to your children not only helps you bond with them, but also gives your children a sense of intimacy and well-being. This feeling of intimacy helps your child feel close to you, and the feelings of love and attention encourage positive growth and development.
With babies specifically, although they may not be able to understand what you’re saying when you read to them, reading aloud provides a level of invaluable nurturing and reassurance. Very young babies love to hear familiar voices, and reading is the perfect outlet to create this connection.
At a broader, more scientific level, it’s the parent-child relationship, nurturing relationships between caregivers and children that set a positive life course. If you are able to read aloud with your child at a predictable, scheduled time that fits with the daily routines of home and school, you’ll be able to provide something constant that they can expect and likely even look forward to.
Very young children rarely sit still for long, and it’s oftentimes difficult to get them to focus. But when you introduce regular reading to your children, you may start to observe a change in behavior. Toddlers may initially squirm and become distracted during story time, but eventually they’ll learn to stay put for the duration of the book.
Young children naturally have a capacity to dream big and use their imaginations. Reading aloud to your child helps them use their imaginations to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences. Reading as an imaginative activity can open doors to all kinds of new worlds for your child.
Reading allows children to understand various emotions. This helps in their emotional and social development since they learn to associate their feelings with words and find a way to express themselves better. Books showcase various characters and perspectives which allows children to be more empathetic.
Children’s brains need stimulation to learn and grow. In times of gadgets and games, children have become addicted to screen time that hampers their brain development. They tend to stay home and not interact with their peers. They become physically unhealthy as they spend hours on screen. On the other hand, books inspire children to learn and develop, and explore the world around them.
To have successful and effective reading sessions, consider the following:
Reading to a young infant may seem like a futile exercise but really isn’t. Children love to hear their parents’ soothing voices and watch their expressions for cues. This habit creates a sense of routine and security for them, which will ensure they continue enjoying reading as they grow older.
Young children respond well to pictures and colors. Books with rich illustrations such as pop-up books or books with 3D images are an ideal buy. The association children will make between visuals and the limited text would help them learn new words and expressions during the reading time.
Allowing children to pick up books of their choice will always ensure more interest. This ability to choose gives them a sense of power and makes them stick to their decisions.
All children have their favorites and will, without a doubt, ask for the same story repeatedly. This indicates an understanding of the story and the desire to learn more about the story. There is an invisible connection they are making between words and real situations.
Children learn by imitation. When they see their parents read, they will be curious and will want to imitate. Habits and enthusiasm are always contagious.
Knowing about the reading skills that a child must possess at a certain age helps a parent choose the right books. This knowledge enables parents to keep track of their children’s development and make amends if the need be.