Studies have linked the benefits of reading to children from birth as one of the key factors that determine their success in school as this builds up their ability to read and comprehend. In fact, numerous studies conducted over the years have shown the impact reading can have on a child’s brain development.
An excerpt from The Child Trends Data Bank cites this:
“Children develop literacy skills and an awareness of language long before they are able to read. Since language development is fundamental to all areas of learning, skills developed early in life can help set the stage for later school success. By reading aloud to their young children, parents help them acquire the skills they will need to be ready for school.”
In our bid to raise our children to love and enjoy reading, we try various ways to keep them interested and engaged while reading to them. However, in the midst of building their interest, some of the things that you do might result in the opposite direction by ruining your child’s love of reading.
Here are some common mistakes parents make while reading to their child:
You think that every page needs to be read
Most parents read to their children with the expectation that it is mandatory to read every single page and that their aspiring readers would sit through while the story is being told.
In reality, young children do not “read” in this manner. They are at the stage where patience runs low and probably would not mind if you miss a few consecutive pages and get right to their favourite part of the story.
Another important thing to note is that during the early years, the aim of reading should be to expose them to words, rhythm and tone – as well as the fact that books are fun as they take our minds on a creative learning adventure.
You don’t always have to be the one who “reads”
Reading sessions with your child are not only for you to read to them and ask questions along the way.
Once children are able to sit down and grasp a book, they also develop an interest in “reading” the story aloud. This usually involves them mumbling a string of words while turning the pages. As their vocabulary grows, they will progress to “telling” their stories through the use of words, inflection and by looking at the illustrations in the book to figure out the storyline.
There should not be a limit on books
On certain days, your child might surprise you by bringing 10 books for you to read, despite your instructions of “one book at bedtime”. Depending on your schedule, do try your best not to discourage or deprive them of their request.
By letting your child decide on how many books to read at that time, it helps to give him/her a sense of control while developing his/her independence. But above all, complying with your child’s request goes a long way to instil a love of reading in your child when he/she sees that you love books as much as he/she does.
Reading their favourite book repeatedly may not be such a bad thing
Once your child finds a book that he/she just can’t seem to get enough of, be prepared to have him/her insist that you both read it every single time. While you find this monotonous, do give in to their wish and take note that there is a reason why this book happens to be their favourite.
Perhaps it’s the pictures, colours or rhymes that excite them. Or maybe it’s just the way you read it to them that they love. Either way, this helps to extend your child’s attention span and build his/her enthusiasm for reading as he/she would know the story word for word after a while.