Children start learning about language from the moment they are born. As they grow up, their speech and language skills become more complex as they learn to understand and use language to bring across their ideas, thoughts, and feelings, as well as to communicate their needs to others.
During this stage of early speech and language development, children pick up skills that set the stage for literacy development. Giving your child an early head start in reading and writing comes with a host of benefits, and studies have found that working on one area (reading) leads the development of the other (writing).
Here are 8 ways your child will benefit from learning to read and write during the early years:
1. Reading helps your child’s brain to keep growing
During the first six years, the speed of your child’s learning development is at its fastest compared to at any other time in their lives. Vital connections in the brain are formed very early in life and a healthy baby is born with approximately 200 billion active brain cells (also known as neurons). With the right kind of stimulation, each of these brain cells is capable of developing up to 20,000 connections – a direct result of stimulation your child receives through early experiences. All these connections eventually form the basis of all future learning.
As you read to your child, existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new links are formed. When your child learns to read independently, the process of learning is greatly influenced by the functioning and development of the brain as a whole. You can help him/her along in this journey by encouraging the efforts put in and instilling a lifelong love of learning and reading.
2. Early reading leads the way to academic success
Reading has the power to inspire a love of learning in your child which will eventually lead him/her towards early academic success.
Studies have shown that strong oral language skills form a strong foundation for literacy development. When children learn to read at a young age, they have greater knowledge of things around them and their vocabulary keeps growing which helps them to become more fluent readers.
Early readers have the ability to recognise a larger collection of words by sight, and this enables them to learn more from and about their environment. As they grow up, early readers also become competent researchers who are able to study effectively and extract relevant information from various sources of information such as books and websites. Longitudinal studies have shown that early readers continue to get better results than their peers in school, which leads to a love for learning within them, for life.
3. Early reading sparks your child’s curiosity and imagination
When your child reads from a young age, it ignites his/her curiosity and imagination. You can use interesting illustrations and word patterns to get your child talking about what he/she is seeing and thinking, and help him/her understand the patterns of language. Reading also sparks your children’s curiosity about people, places and things around them, and gives them the answers through explanations of how things work.
Reading promotes maturity and higher order thinking skills in your child. When you explore stories together with your child, he/she learns the difference between what’s “real” and “make-believe”. Over time, this will help him/her develop his/her own ideas which inspire creativity – a tool which could come in handy in the future for problem-solving.
4. Early reading boosts your child’s confidence
When your child starts reading as a baby or toddler, he/she is unlikely to succumb to peer and psychological pressures than if he/she were to pick up this skill later on.
As your child has yet to start school, you will have the flexibility to teach him/her to read a few pages each day in a relaxed mode. Because there is no rush, you can stop before he/she gets tired. Through this, you are building the love of reading in your child from the start, and the both of you can treat reading time as an exciting adventure, rather than a drilling process. Over time, your child will gain confidence in reading, especially when he/she is able to catch up and participate in reading activities in school.
How does your child’s early reading efforts pave the way towards writing success? Find out more on the next page.