Child development of language and literacy abilities (the ability to talk, read and write) occurs in stages over time. It includes developing oral language, reading comprehension, writing, and spelling skills. Developing language and literacy skills is an ongoing process, and it is normal for children to develop these skills in stages, at different ages, and in different ways. Studies have shown that reading books to your child often when they are young can help with child development of language and help them learn to read. It may also support academic abilities later in life.
Because of variations in learning within home environments, children enter school with different knowledge levels. This may impact the rate in which they learn to read and write. Learning within the home at an early age may influence academic achievement later in life.
The environment in which children are raised plays a strong role in helping develop reading and writing skills. In a previous blogpost, I discussed how early childhood exposure to book reading with parents between the ages of 1-3 years old has impact on a child’s later success and helps them learn to read.
The frequency of early literacy experiences (ie: total number of times which you read baby books or kids books with your child) helps improve the development of reading and writing skills. Studies have also shown that the quality of the parent-child interaction while reading books helps support child development and language abilities. I know for Madi and I, reading books is an excellent time for bonding and snuggles.
Book reading should be frequent and fun
But it is not just the frequency of reading books; the children have to actually like the books! Here are some tips for incorporating reading to your child in your daily routine:
- Try and find as much quality time as you can to read to your child. Madi and I often read 1-2 bedtime stories.
- Chose books with characters you think your child will like and story lines that you think your child could benefit from learning. Studies have shown children need a variety of diverse reading material!
- Ask open-ended questions when reading to your child. This invites them to reflect on the books material and will help them learn to understand the book. “What did you learn from the story?” (I don’t do this enough!)
- Encourage discussions of the attributes of the characters in the book, and what they are doing. “What do you think the dinosaur was trying to do when he crossed the road?”
For Madi and I, reading bedtime stories is one of my favourite parts of the day. I have noticed that her language abilities improved a lot when we started reading baby books more frequently, and I hope it helps her to learn to read. If anything else, it’s a great time to bond and snuggle.
This post was co-authored by Suzanne Black, MD, BSc and Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc.
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