Working with the Kellogg Institute, the Department of Education has come up with some quite interesting findings about the importance of teaching children about reading as early as possible:
Parents who are with children many hours per day
have that much more instruction time to utilize.
Research shows that the more parents talk to their child
and read to their child the better the child does in school.
The report finds that, whenever an adult reads to a child, at least four (4) important things happen:
A Pleasurable Connection Is Established – children love to snuggle up with a loving adult, causing them to learn to connect reading with love. This connection is made with teachers, too, but they are not as important as family for making this connection.
This Creates a Double Learning Experience – both parent and child are learning from the book that they are reading.
Language Skills Are Being Built – While reading, adults pour sounds and syllables called words into the child’s ears and the child relates and identifies.
Books Build Background Knowledge – children learn so much from books—about colors, numbers, geography, about trucks and building and bakeries and dinosaurs and bugs and space. They learn about almost anything!
The study also encourages parents to ask, “How is my child’s reading going to get better if I am the one doing the reading?”
The answers are impressive.
Reading and talking about books with children builds:
Vocabulary: The more words children know when they start to learn to read, the easier it is for them to connect letters and sounds to words that they know.
- Background knowledge
- Knowledge about books and print
- Children learn the direction of reading (left to right), the difference between words and pictures, about letters, words, punctuation, and spaces between words, about the front, middle, and back of a book, about titles and authors
- Differences between the language in books and everyday conversation
- Story structures, learning how to “hold” a story in their mind, and learning how to ask and answer questions from the text
- They learn to love reading and stories
The national Public Library Association agrees. It says Early Literacy Begins with You. You should help your child get ready to read with simple activities every day.
Reading is essential to school success! Learning to read begins before children start school. From the time they are infants, children learn language and other important skills that will help them learn to read. Developing early literacy skills makes it easier for children to read once they begin school.
Parents should help their children get ready to read. It’s never too early or too late to help your child develop language and other early literacy skills. Here are five of the best ways for children to get ready to read.
Talking: Talking with children helps them learn oral language, one of the most critical early literacy skills. The experience of self-expression also stimulates brain development, which underlies all learning.
- Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk.
- Stretch your child’s vocabulary. Repeat what your child says and use new words. “You want a banana? That’s a healthy choice.“
- Stress Awareness of sensitivity to the sounds in words. This helps prepare children to decode print (written language).
Singing (which also includes rhyming): increases children’s awareness of sensitivity to the sounds in words. This helps prepare children to decode print (written language). To help implement this:
- Sing the Alphabet Song to help your child learn about letters
- Clap along to the rhythms in songs so children hear the syllables in words.
Reading: Reading together, or shared reading, remains the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers. To implement this:
- Read every day. Use books to help teach new words. Books can teach less common words, words that children may not hear in every day conversation. While reading to your child, talk about what these words mean.
Writing: Writing and reading go together. Writing helps children learn that letters and words stand for sounds and that print has meaning.
- Writing begins with scribbles and other marks. Encourage this by providing many opportunities to draw and write.
- Talk with your children about what they draw, and write captions or stories together. This helps make a connection between spoken and printed language.
Playing: Play is one of the primary ways young children learn about the world. General knowledge is an important literacy skill that will help children understand books and stories once they begin to read.
- Give your child plenty of playtime. Some of the best kinds of play are unstructured, when children can use their imaginations and create stories about what they’re doing.
- Encourage dramatic play. When children make up stories using puppets or stuffed animals, they develop important narrative skills. This helps children understand that stories and books have a beginning, middle, and end.
- Children who enter kindergarten with pre-reading skills have an advantage. They can focus on learning to read instead of first learning essential pre-reading skills. Children who start kindergarten ready to read have greater success throughout their school years.
The role of parents/caregivers is critical
and essential in helping children to read.
You have been your child’s teacher from the day he or she was born. You know more about your child than anyone else. You are in the best position to help your child get ready to read because:
- Young children have short attention spans. You can do activities for short bits of time throughout the day.
- You know your children best and you can help them learn in ways and at times that are easiest for them.
- Parents are tremendous role models – if your children see that you think reading is important and enjoy it, they will follow your lead.
- Children learn best by doing – and they love doing things with YOU.
Public Library Association, Every Child Ready to Read
- AUDIO: Should children start school at two? (bbc.co.uk)
- ‘Schools should take two-year-olds’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Report: Too Many Low-Income Idaho Kids Need Pre-K (boiseweekly.com)
- Children and Literacy: Guest Post by Nancy Stewart (darlenebeckjacobson.wordpress.com)
- Halloween: A Great Time for Early Literacy! (putnamcountylibrary.wordpress.com)
- Kindergarten Teachers’ Effects on Five Year-Olds’ Futures (larrycuban.wordpress.com)
- National Report: Montana kids lag in early education screening (missoulian.com)
- The ‘early language gap’ is about more than words (washingtonpost.com)