Early reading is as important as it is hard. Reading has a huge impact not only on your child’s academic success but on their overall intellectual and emotional development. Reading helps develop vocabulary, imagination, and even empathy. Parents often feel guilty because their children haven’t yet mastered this crucial skill, or at least not well enough. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to turn your little one into a passionate reader. Here are a few of our favorites.
Read to them
It might sound silly, but you can start reading to your children from day one. It doesn’t matter that your baby doesn’t exactly understand what you’re saying. At such an early age, reading brings about the comfort and sense of security that comes with listening to their mom’s voice. Once your baby starts playing and communicating, it will probably enjoy colorful or tactile books. Gradually, you will move on to books with more text and more elaborate stories. Reading bedtime stories to your kids regularly tends to turn into a soothing ritual which also helps children fall asleep faster.
Don’t underestimate early education
Children are like little sponges, soaking up whatever knowledge they are given. Multiple studies have shown that early education has an immense impact on later academic success. Preschools that support holistic development, and base learning on fun, age-appropriate activities tend to spark a lifelong hunger for knowledge in their students. While a good preschool will probably help your little ones grasp their ABCs, it should also teach them patience and concentration – two prerequisites for success. A school with a dedicated staff and a carefully crafted curriculum, could make all the difference when it comes both to your child’s future development and reading habits.
Lead by example
Leading by example is probably the most important and most effective method of parenting in most matters, reading included. Children who grow up surrounded by books, and whose parents read for pleasure themselves, are much more likely to develop a love of reading. Let your child see you curled up with an engrossing novel and a mug of hot tea on lazy Sunday afternoons. Buy them books for birthdays and holidays. Take them to the library. Once your reader is old enough to read on his own, you can even make your own book club. If your children see reading as an activity that brings you pleasure, and as something that will bring them closer to you, they will want to be a part of that.
Books, especially exciting or very descriptive ones, are an amazing way to develop a vivid imagination. Studies have shown that reading increases brain function by stimulating the right hemisphere. Having your child draw the way they imagined characters and events from a book they read will help them focus, as well as organize what they have read. Not to mention, it’s pretty cool to find out how they imagined it. If your child is reading a book that has a film adaptation, always make sure they read the book first, because otherwise, they will only be revisiting the movie, instead of engaging their own creativity.
Invest in a library membership
Getting your child their own library membership from early on is great for several reasons. The membership itself will make your little one feel grown up and important. Most children love spending time at the library, where they can browse through thousands of different books, read and make new friends. Lots of libraries organize special activities too, like readings and workshops for children. If you allow your kids to choose their own books (at least some of them), they will be more likely to actually read them. Library memberships are also a wonderful way to teach your children about responsibility, as they need to take care of the books and remember to return them on time.
In recent years, statistics have shown that overall literacy is on the rise. However, by the time year 4 rolls around, around 7% of children still haven’t mastered the low benchmark reading skills. Children who started school with no previous literacy skills also tend to score lower on literacy tests later during their school years. All signs point to the fact that early reading is an essential factor in intellectual and academic development, which should definitely not be overlooked. Teaching your child to love reading is one of the best and most useful gifts you can give them.