It’s one of those things hammered into parents and guardians as soon as children enter their lives. “Read to children,” the experts say, because the benefits are enormous – and the consequences of not doing so can be severe.
Generally, most accept these truths and do their best to make time to read to their children or to facilitate home reading time as they get older. In our fast-paced lives, sometimes it can be hard to devote that time. That’s understandable. But here at Walsh/STCS we implore families to set aside at least 30 minutes of quiet reading time every night. (If you can do more, fantastic!)
You’re likely already convinced, but let’s break down the benefits a bit further than most early childhood educators do in their blanket prescription for more reading.
Read to Children for Academic, Social and Developmental Benefits You Can’t Ignore
Reading to children from an early age has been proven to provide significant benefits to their development, including their success in school. Here are some ways instilling a love of reading from a young age can help them growing up and later in life:
1. Language Skills
Reading to children from an early age helps develop their language skills. Some experts even advise reading to infants and babies for their nurturing, entertainment and initial development of word- and picture-association skills.
Exposure to new words and sentence structures helps children develop their language skills, which in turn helps them communicate more effectively. These skills will be essential and, if nurtured, will continue to advance as they begin pre-K and progress through the grade levels.
Research shows that reading aloud exposes children to a more diverse range of vocabulary than they would typically encounter in everyday conversation. This organically builds understanding of meanings and contexts. They’re better equipped to comprehend complex texts, communicate their thoughts clearly, and articulate their ideas with confidence.
Another big reason to read to children is that it helps them become better listeners. They learn to focus for longer periods and retain information.
2. Cognitive Skills
Reading to children from an early age improves their cognitive skills. They’re exposed to different types of stories, ideas and concepts, which develops their imagination and critical thinking skills. These skills are crucial for success in school, as they help children understand complex concepts, connect the dots and problem solve.
Quiet reading time prompts children to use their imagination to create mental images of the characters, settings, and events in the story. This stimulates their brain and helps to build neural pathways that promote creative thinking. As they engage with different concepts and perspectives, they learn to interpret, question, analyze and evaluate information critically.
Reading also helps to improve children’s memory and attention skills. As children listen to stories, they learn to remember characters, settings and events, and how to follow the plot. These skills are critical for academic success as students must recall information to successfully complete tasks, assignments and tests.
3. Literacy Skills
Reading at a young age develops literacy skills, beginning with the ability to recognize and manipulate individual sounds in words. This is a critical skill for reading and writing, as it helps children to understand how letters represent sounds and how these sounds can be blended together to form words.
Moreover, reading to children helps them more easily learn grammar rules and language patterns as they get older. They can easily identify and understand the different parts of a sentence and parts of speech, which not only aids comprehension but also builds writing skills. As these abilities develop, children naturally improve in their reading and writing proficiency, which are core academic skills needed for success everywhere.
4. A Love of Learning
Reading fosters a love of learning. That may be most important of all. When children are read to, they often associate reading with pleasure and entertainment. They’re more inclined to enjoy learning and to enjoy academic pursuits in the future. Children who enjoy reading as an activity are more likely to read independently and to seek out new knowledge, ideas, philosophies and other well-rounded ways of thinking.
When you read to children, it also improves their social skills. Reading together can be an opportunity for children and parents to bond. It can help children learn how to interact with others in a respectful and positive way. This social and emotional development is also key to classroom performance. Students must form strong relationships with teachers and peers, and learn to work well in group settings.
Let’s Read to Children and Watch Them Blossom!
You know the benefits when you read to children. It doesn’t have to be much. Even a few minutes here and there add up to have a great impact. Sure, there are so many academic benefits, but the social and emotional benefits are just as important.
Reading with children is an investment in their future. Children who learn to read from an early age become lifelong learners and seekers of truth.
Here at Walsh/STCS, a private Catholic school in southwestern New York, we pride ourselves on nurturing environments for academic success and personal growth. Book a tour and let’s get to know each other!