Learning to read is crucial in early childhood development. Many people want to know: “Why is Reading Important for Children?” “When should I teach my child to read?” and “How do I teach my child to read?” Answering these questions is sometimes difficult; the main reason being, every child is an individual; therefore, each child learns differently.
Teaching your child to read and write will prepare them for success in life, so it is our responsibility to help them as much as possible. Studies have shown that for most children, learning to read early can improve a child’s later overall learning ability. Reading begins at home even before the child is old enough for school. It is imperative to teach your child to read before they are four or five so that they will be able to follow the teaching curriculum when beginning school.
When Should I Teach my Child to Read?
Many researchers believe that reading begins from the moment a child is born. Hearing people speak, read, and sing is the first step for a child to learn to read. Then again, there are those that believe that this crucial step begins even before the child is born. There have been studies that prove that infants can hear even in the womb. Research led by Christine Moon, a professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University, showed that newborns have the capacity to learn and remember elementary sounds of their language from their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy (https://www.plu.edu/resolute/spring-2015/babies-learning-in-the-womb/). Beginning to teach your child to read seems to be a natural occurrence; after the child is born though, it is time to begin their true education.
It is recommended that parents read to their children from the time they are born. Speaking to the child, as well as singing to them are also ways to help your child begin to understand language. Reading isn’t just about letters and numbers, it also includes associating words with objects and thoughts. After your child starts reading, he or she will continue to learn the nuances of their native language; sometimes even other languages as well.
So start teaching your child from day one. Read, sing, and speak as much as possible, even before they are born, as well as when they are infants. After that, steadily increase the instruction level as your child masters each skill you are teaching. Before long, your child will be reading to you, and if all goes well, you will both be enjoying it.
How do I Teach my Child to Read?
As I mentioned before, every child is an individual, and each learns differently. As a parent, observing your child reading, asking questions, speaking, and playing is the primary cue in how your child will learn best. No one knows your child better than you do, so who is better to prepare him or her for their future?
There are many different ways to help you teach your child. Here are just a few examples that parents can use.
- Praise for a job well done: This is especially important. Children need this in order to feel like they are doing well and accomplishing something. Confidence in their abilities is vital when learning, without it, many children give up and don’t learn as well as they could.
- Reading to Your Child: It is important to read to your child as much as possible while they are too young to read. Watching and listening to you read will teach them early on to associates the words you say with the letters on the page.
- Listening to Your Child Read: This is crucial early on. Not only do they need the praise for doing a good job, but they also need the instruction for pronunciation.
- Homeschooling: The “No Child Left Behind” policy the U.S. government initiated has failed; many children, especially those with learning disabilities, are having difficulty because they cannot get the individual attention they need. That’s why parents have to be more involved in their child’s education. Because of this, many parents have opted to homeschool their child in order to provide them with the one-on-one teaching they may need.
- Time: It is very important to spend enough time helping your child to read. Some children need extra time as well. It is a good idea to schedule a time each day that you have the time to spend with your child without distractions.
- Immersion: You are constantly surrounded by written words. Use everyday objects to prompt your child to read. Point out signs, boxes, restaurant menus, license plates, etc. as teaching tools. Make a game of it.
Learning Resources for Children
There are many resources to help your child learn to read; even if they are learning alone. Some of them require the interaction of both the parent and the child. However, there are also resources that kids can use alone, even as a young child.
- Board and Video Games: Surprising, I know, but games really are a great method for learning to read, no matter the age of the child. There aren’t that many games a child plays that don’t have at least some words. Consequently, if they like the game, they will be enticed to learn to read what the words mean.
- Educational Television and Videos: You can’t forget about educational television. Watching shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company was years ago a great pastime. Not only are they entertaining, but also they are teaching your child without them even knowing it. This way, the child may not feel the same pressures of learning as with traditional learning.
- Tutoring: Many parents may not be able to help their child as much as they need to, for many reasons. Besides the lack of time they may have, a parent may not feel like the can teach their child well enough, especially when the child is older.
- Websites: Many sites like Evan-Moor offer games, interactive lessons, teacher and parent resources, and/or workbooks that you can purchase to help instruct your child.
- Friends and Family: Children are sometimes more fond of, or influenced by, certain members of the family or close friends. In these cases, the person of interest would be especially effective in helping teach your child. However, don’t take it personally if your child is partial to learning from someone besides yourself. It can just be a case of how that person reads or speaks that attracts the child’s attention.
So, why is Reading Important for Children?
Due to understaffing, overcrowding, and inadequate budgets, the public school system in the United States has to depend on the parents to help with their child’s education more than ever before. For the most part, teachers just do not have the time to spend one-on-one with each student. That’s why it is vital that as parents we begin to teach our children to read at an early age.
Teaching them to read and write before they begin school, and throughout their education is the main way we can prepare our kids for the future. Treating each child as an individual, and planning their education to fit their specific needs is the responsibility of both the school system and the parents.
Using resources like the products available at Evan-Moor, spending extra time with our kids, and communicating with their teachers are just some of the ways we can prepare our children for a successful life.
Reading is very important for children as it helps them in school and with understanding the world around them. It can sometimes be difficult for some children to learn to read at first but if this is the case do not give up on trying. My daughter was upset that she could not read like the other kids and had a much harder time learning it, but once she did learn she was able to catch up to her peers. Now she is 17 years old and is always on her tablet reading something that she is interested in.
My belief is there is nothing more important to a child than learning to read. I also think that all parents need to be held accountable in their child’s progress. Of course teachers play a big role but I believe they are just laying the foundation for our kids. It is our responsibility to always take our kids to the next level to make sure they are ready. Such a well written article. Thank you for this.
Indeed, parents are essential in the learning process because the most important part of this process is based on emotion and love. If parents ignore their role in education, the child will be affected and often irremediably.
Great and an informative article. When my oldest was born, having been a new parent. I was all for reading with him. Out of the 4 kids I have, he is the only one who has love of reading.
In kindergarten he was well ahead of his classmates. Which I was so proud of. But then the other three , no great love for reading at all. They turned out to be the kids who fall asleep while reading. Although I know reading with them benefited them for sure.
Reading was never a problem in school because of all the reading we did at home.
Even here in Canada the teachers are underpaid, understaffed, so reading is the first thing which goes. Sadly the kids are the ones who suffer from this.
Thanks for some great ideas, I will be implementing them with my granddaughter who is future generation of becoming a great reader.
Why are people so focused on home schooling? Every child I have met who is home schooled has very poor social skills. I am a firm believer that children thrive when in the presence of other children daily, learn to work together, and learn to play together.
I have an 8 year old and an 11 year old who are so involved with the goings on at school I couldn’t imagine them being at home.
There are many parents that are dissatisfied either with the whole educational system or with teachers. However, you are right saying that in general children going to school have better social experiences.
It is absolutely fascinating to me that unborn children are not only able to hear from inside the womb but also remember sounds that they have heard. That is amazing. How do they actually go about finding that out? How can they know that an infant remembers sounds that he has heard within the womb? Seems like a difficult scientific hypothesis to measure.
Here is a quotation from the article that I mentioned in the post about unborn children hearing inside the womb that may answer your question: „Moon’s research on babies’ voice recognition, for example, indicates that since a baby’s ears are fully formed about halfway through pregnancy, a baby might know its mom’s voice by the time it’s born. When hours-old newborns are given a pacifier to suck on while hearing a recording of their mother’s voice, Moon found, they would suck faster, suggesting familiarity.”
I must agree with you that reading is very good for children but also for adults. If we can teach our child to read it can develop very good mental skills and health. I have one kid but it would be very hard to teach him to read because he only wants to play but with your tips I think that it would be a bit easier. Thank you a lot. This is very important for our kids.
It is very important to raise the interest of children in reading and not to compel them. But, I agree, this is easier said than done.
Reading your article made me realize what I have missed towards my children.
Yes, I read and sung to and with them but at that time there was no huge emphasis to teach the children to read as early as possible. This, of course, has changed.
I wish, I could turn back the time, I would do it much differently with the information I have now.
However, luckily my kids have their own children now and yes, they are doing a better job as I did to teach their children the skills etc to succeed in life.
Will also let them read your article saved your site too.
Thanks for sharing 🙂
I think its fascinating that babies in the womb can learn and remember the sounds of their mother during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, I didn’t know that. Reading is so important to a child, and you really give some great tips in this article. I was surprised that video games was mentioned, but I guess it makes sense if a child likes a game they will want to read the words about the game or in the game. It is very unfortunate that children with learning disabilities are not given the one on one attention that they truly need, and that parents must take over by homeschooling. I live in Canada and I believe we have a maximum class size limit, do you have the same in the States?
I do not know precisely the figures, but on the following website you can get more information: https://ies.ed.gov/
One of the questions you refer to in your post is that people often ask how do I teach my child to read?
As an English Teacher, I would say by introducing the baby to Capital Letters made of materials that are not harmful for the baby, toddler, young child. This way they will be familiar with them before they even learn to speak the sound of the letter. Perhaps a picture associated with the alphabet letter can be incorporated in the design of the letter if you’re making them yourself.
When you feel it is appropriate to bring in the sound for the letter, then incorporate it in the daily chores of changing nappies, or giving them a bath, or just playing and romping with them. This is where you could actually make up little songs for them incorporating the letters of the alphabet.
And of course, just before they go to bed, reading them bedtime stories with a lot of expression will keep them enthralled and coming back for more. They may even want to imitate you with your expressions – then you know the message has gotten through and that they are retaining what you have taught them.
Encouraging children to read is a great gift you can give your children, or any needy children for that matter, and it will pay dividends for years to come!
I fully agree with you.
We started reading to my daughter when she was first born. I would lay her down, look at her, and read different stories. Her little face would light up, and she would laugh and kind of sing.
As she got older, she would sit in my lap, and I would point the words as I read them. She started talking at a very young age, I think it is because we read to her.
Now she is 10, and reads at an 8th grade level, according to her teachers. She is ahead 1 year in math, and get all A’s. I am very proud of her.
She has a real interest in reading, and usually reads 2 or 3 books at the same time. She reads for fun, and is interested in learning. I think this is all because we always read to her.
I have always thought that it really didn’t matter what they read, as long as they read something. Comic books, cartoons, heck even subtiles on a television show are fine by me, do you agree?
Of course, reading to your children help them to develop much quicker their inner language and thus their overall thinking. Also, they will love to read themselves, because previously their imagination was stimulated through the reading of others and now they will want to discover those beautiful inner landscapes by themselves. Therefore, children who are accustomed to reading from a young age are considered to be more intelligent than those who start reading at a later stage of their development.
hahaha! so funny, infants hear their parents interactions even from the womb? Never thought that is possible. I have two kids and at once I thought teaching them to read and write at an early age like one year was not possible, this only means I was totally wrong. In most cases, as parents we lack the knowledge of how to teach our kids from an early age, but seriously, its very crucial to catch them young. I was not aware of sites like Evan-Moor, i am going to make use of that .
Thank you so much for such great info
You are welcome.
Indeed, we learn so many new things in recent times that previously we thought of as being completely impossible!
Fantastic Article! I’m a true believer in the importance of teaching kids as soon as you can how to read and even write. And kids are like sponges and will absorb everything you put in front of them as long as it can keep their attention. I love that so many kids shows and cartoons help them learn to read and write. There’s also fun apps you can put on your iPad too for them to learn in fun ways. Gone are the days of the spinny wheel telling us what sounds the farm animals make lol
At what age do you think it would be suggested to start teaching them a second language? And would it be confusing to them to teach them two at the same time?
It depends on the way you teach them the second language. If they grow up in a multilingual environment, then, of course, they will be able to learn the second language very quickly. Otherwise, you can start slowly already in the first year of life with the second language. Yes, I think also that it would be confusing to teach them simultaneously two languages at a very young age, although the opinions are divided on this topic.
Reading is really important for children, and the best way to teach them reading is read to your chlld. As children tend to imitate their parents, watching and listening to you, they subconsciously attracted to reading.
Another great way is encourage reading their favorite books and magzines. find out what are their interests and give them books relating to their interests.
You rightly said that children actually start learning when they are in the womb, so reading good books in pregnancy is important as well.
Can you pl explain what is “No Child Left Out”, is it for kids with learning disabilites?
The ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act was a 2001 act of the US Congress that endeavored to assess the level of the national educational system in the US by annually testing all the students. So it was not meant only for children with disabilities. However, it is widely considered today that it affected them because these tests made teachers not to give enough attention to those children while attempting to reach better results with other students.