As parents, we often hear that it is important for us to read to our children to help them improve their reading skills. But there are so many other benefits reading to our kids can bring, which is why we should try and make this part of their daily routine. Here are 9 reasons it is so important to read to your children from their early months and to continue this for as long as possible, even after they can read themselves.
Reading to our children helps them develop essential foundational literacy skills which include increasing vocabulary, reading fluency and phonemic awareness. Reading to your child means they will hear a much more diverse use of language than they would in normal day to day life. As well as developing language skills, if we read to our children as often as we can, they are much more likely to develop positive attitudes towards reading and a lifelong love of books.
When children read, they absorb knowledge, learning about many different aspects of life. When you read to your children it helps them to learn to read themselves, gives them a head start at school and will improve their reading skills in the future. Children who enjoy reading not only do better in language and literacy subjects, but in all other subjects as well. Research has shown that children who are read to regularly perform better at school and exhibit less troubled behaviour.
It might seem difficult at first to read to a toddler who enjoys dropping the book on the floor or turning each page quickly, but persevere. If you make reading an enjoyable experience for your child, reading to them in short bursts to begin with, they will gradually learn to sit for a longer time. They will love listening to the voices you are making and communicating with you about the pictures. This will increase their ability to concentrate and will help them greatly when they start school.
Research shows that specific areas of the brain, critical for language development, are affected when children are read to from an early age. This exposure will enhance their ability to speak, learn to read themselves and to communicate.
When we read to our children they will ask questions about what we are reading. Try and provide a range of books so the topics you are reading about are varied. Reading is an excellent opportunity for your child to learn about so many new things and may help them develop an interest areas that they would not otherwise be exposed to.
Children’s ability to empathise takes a long time to develop fully and it isn’t until they are around six or seven years old that children really begin to understand other people’s feelings. Reading stories is one way children can learn about feelings. By talking about the characters in a story, how they might feel and why, helps to develop the skill of empathy in your child.
When we read to our children we don’t have to stick to the story. Let your imagination run wild and watch your children do this too. Imagine what the characters are doing and explore the setting with your child. Encourage them to tell the story or guess what might happen next. This will help them to develop their creative thinking and feel free to let their imagination take them wherever it wants to go.
So often today we are entertained by screens; computer games, the internet, television and phones. But, as well as there being a lot of concern about how much screen time is healthy for our kids (and for us), children say themselves that they love being read to by their parents. So, what great reasons to choose a book to read with them rather than play yet another video game or watch T.V. If we encourage reading to be a habit then our children are more likely to choose to read when they are bored rather than turn on the nearest screen.
The Schoolastic kids and family reading report found that only 17% of parents with children aged 9-11 read aloud to their kids. And yet 83% of children aged 6-17 say they like or love being read aloud to. Spending time with your child helps create a healthy bond and relationship between parent and child. Reading is a wonderful opportunity to spend 1:1 time together during the day or at bedtime and have some special, quality time. Whilst you are talking about the book with your child you are creating opportunities to learn about each other’s likes, dislikes, thoughts and feelings and you are showing them that you value them enough to spend time with them. This will increase their sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
If you would like more information about the importance of reading to your children, help with setting up good reading habits or with any other parenting matters, please get in touch.