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.