Helping your child with reading
Reading is a powerful, fulfilling, and rewarding activity. Not only does a book act as a comfort and a friend, it also acts as a teacher and can teach children all about themselves,
their world, and the cultures within it. Reading with children has numerous benefits and is something all parents and teachers should encourage.
Why is Reading so Important for Children?
Reading allows us to be transported from our own world to another. Between the pages of a book, we can become immersed in the lives of fictional characters and learn about a culture entirely different from our own. We can also learn new words and phrases, experience a range of emotions, and acquire skills and knowledge.
Because of the learning potential, the effects of reading on child development are vast and multiple studies have highlighted its benefits. As such, teachers and parents are in a great position to ensure reading is a key part of children’s daily routine.
What Are the Benefits of Reading for Children?
The importance of reading for children cannot be underestimated. Reading for pleasure can benefit a child’s education, social and cognitive development, their wellbeing, and their mental health.
The Top Ten Benefits of Reading for Children
- Their vocabulary is larger and more extensive.
- They perform better academically.
- Their imagination can run wild.
- Their creativity skills develop.
- They develop empathy.
- They gain a deeper understanding of their world.
- Their concentration levels improve.
- The parent and child bond improves.
- Their cognitive development is supported.
- Their social skills and interaction improve.
How to Read with Your Child
Reading aloud is an enjoyable activity that both parents and children alike can enjoy. Additionally, it is an activity that teachers find fulfilling and that they should encourage regularly, both at school and at home.
How Parents Can Read with Their Child
If you read with your child at home, then you are supplementing what they learn in the classroom as well as giving them additional one-on-one support that the classroom cannot give. To have successful and effective reading sessions, consider the following:
Start young. Even during infancy, a child can look at pictures and listen to your voice. Read aloud to your child and point to the pictures on the page, saying the name of the objects that appear. This provides your child with two sources of information: an understanding of real-world objects and an understanding of the importance of language. Even when your child can read by themselves, you should still read aloud together for practice.
Make it part of your routine. Try your best to read to your child every day and keep it consistent. Incorporate this into your, and your child’s, daily routine until it becomes as much of a habit as them brushing their teeth. However, try not to be discouraged if you miss a day – just pick your routine back up as normal when you have time.
Encourage variation. Try to vary the books that you read to your child as much as possible. This will open their eyes to a range of different worlds, cultures, and characters, and allow their imagination to be stretched and thrive.
Have patience. Sometimes we can forget what it’s like to be that age and what we were like. As an adult we take reading for granted, but it’s easier to be patient with a child when we remember how much they don’t know yet. For example, how is a child going to know to read from left to right until you point at the words as you go? How are they to know that each scrawl on the page represents a word? Take your time and be patient if they don’t understand.
Continue the discussion. After you’ve finished reading a story to your child, consider trying to keep it going. Age depending, you could ask them questions about what they’ve just read. For example, “Did you enjoy that story?”, “Who was your favourite character?” or “Why do you think the prince was happy at the end?”. However, don’t feel that this is necessary for every single story you read. If your child enjoys the book, it will develop a love of reading anyway, even without the conversation.
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