“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go” – Dr Seuss
As we know, the first 5 years of a child’s development is crucial as the brain development is most rapid during these early years. They are learning and absorbing as much as they can from their environment. Early reading has been shown to stimulate brain development and enhance speech and language in children. One of the best way to instill good reading habit and lifelong reading interest in your child is to read to them from young.
When to start?
Research shows it’s never too early to start reading to your child. In fact, the AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) recommends reading aloud to your child from birth. Previous studies have also shown fetuses (unborn babies) being able to listen to their mothers talk during the 3rd trimester – aiding in voice and language recognition and enhance parent-child bonding.
Benefits of early reading with your child
- Develop early literacy skills – recognize sounds, words and language which helps in social and communication skills
- Stimulates cognitive development
- Creates a world of imagination, creativity and curiosity
- Enhances child’s love for learning and helps in pre-school readiness
- Cultivates lifelong interest in reading & the values of books
- Provides a bonding time between you and your child and also as a fun family activity
How to read with your child during early years?
Bear in mind that every child develops differently and at their own pace. It’s important not to force reading onto your child and instead, go at their pace. Remember to make reading time enjoyable for you and your child(ren).
Infants up to 12 months old
- Black and white flash cards to provide high contrast for newborns as their color perception are still limited
- Use soft cloth books or board books with large pictures, point and read aloud naming the objects, colours, animals etc
- Incorporate sensory stimulation during reading time with pictures of different textures
Toddlers up to 3 years old
- Nursery rhymes book (sing-a-long and rhymes are great alternatives to reading)
- Board books on alphabets, colours, objects, animals etc (enhance fine motor skills by encouraging toddlers to turn the pages)
- Use fun board books with sounds of animals, vehicles etc for further auditory stimulation and imitate the sounds yourself too with actions (be creative!)
- Short stories with mostly pictures/images
- Use books with images to teach toddlers about emotions as most toddlers find it difficult to express themselves (hence the term “terrible twos/threes”) or to teach on life’s changes eg: potty training, a new sibling etc
- Reading bedtime stories is an example of a positive pre-bed routine
Pre-schoolers (4-6 years old)
- Practice finger-point reading (ask your child to point to each word as he/she reads). This helps with the ability to make a voice-print match, reinforces what is being read, and also assists in reading difficult words (eg: by moving finger from left to right of the word, blending sounds into words)
- Short stories book (as they grow older, the accompanying images should get lesser)
- Ask your child some questions (who, what, when, why, where) after reading a chapter or at the end of the story to reinforce comprehension
We cannot agree more. If you have yet to start reading to/with your child, it’s never too late. So put that phone away, laundry and dishes can wait, pick up a book and spend some quality time reading with your child.
“If you’re going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books” – Roald Dahl (one of my favorite children books author).
Stay tuned for our next blog post on tips to raise a reader and creating a reading space at home 🙂
Till then, thank you for taking the time to read and hopefully this was helpful for you in some way ❤️