​Is it Ever too Early to Start Reading to Your Child?

Some parents may be wondering when to start reading to their child. Both of my parents are educators – under their guidance, I learned the value of reading from an early age. Simply put, it is never too early to read to your child. In fact, studies have shown that introducing books beginning at 4 months increases the chance that parents will continue to read to their children throughout their childhood. There are ample benefits to reading early. Let's take a look into some of them together.

  1. Bonding with Baby. Reading with your baby between the ages of 0-6 months can give you one on one time that encourages moments of shared meaning. Using chunky books, board books, soft fabric books or vinyl bath books will allow the experience to be interactive and fun. Getting through the book, although important, shouldn't be the focus of your reading. Instead, take time to enjoy being together with your child. They may not be able to understand what you're saying when you read to them, yet reading aloud provides a level of invaluable nurturing and reassurance. This feeling of intimacy helps your child feel close to you, and the feelings of love and attention encourage positive growth and development. Very young babies love to hear familiar voices, and reading is the perfect outlet to create this connection.
  2. Creating a language-rich environment. Reading allows even the smallest of children to hear various words that will later help them form a large vocabulary. Anything from narrating your daily tasks or sitting down to read a book can help your little one begin to understand language. Numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well when they reach their period of formal education. Beginning early can lay down the foundation for success. Get comfortable with repeating sounds, rhymes, and books to your child. The more language they hear, the more likely they are to pick up the skills necessary to become good readers.
  3. Supports social and emotional development. Don't be afraid to be expressive as you read out loud to your baby. As you put excitement into your reading voice, baby picks up on different cues for understanding emotions such as happiness, confidence, and sadness. The characters in the book will come to life as your child begins to learn social skills, such as how to be a good friend. Your baby may begin to look, point, and touch the book as they develop these skills. This brings out the interactive fun reading can provide.
  4. Jumpstarts their imagination and academic performance. Children who grow up reading from books often have a natural capacity to dream big. Reading aloud helps them to explore people, places, times, and events beyond their own experiences. Have books within crawling distance of your baby. The more they become familiar with the texture and presence of books, the easier it will be to transition into independent reading. According to EarlyMoments.com, along with reading comprehension comes "a stronger self-discipline, longer attention span, and better memory retention, all of which will serve your child well when [he or] she enters school."

There are many variables (such as temperament and environmental distractions) that can influence a child's reading experience, but remember that you are laying down a foundation of learning for your baby that will benefit them for years to come. The sound of the reading voice can be soothing and comforting, and also encourages development. As your child gets older and you begin reading chapter books together, consider stopping at a cliff hanger. This leaves the child with a desire to read and makes the process of learning to read for themselves more enjoyable. As you do these things you are cultivating a lifelong love of reading for your little one.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." – Dr. Suess

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

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