Children’s development is dependent on how parents mold their children. As their first teacher, parents teach them proper behavior, good conduct, and of course, reading. As an elementary teacher, it is easy to notice children not exposed to books when they are toddlers. They present signs of limitations in their learning and social skills. To help parents become aware and motivated to nurture their child’s reading early on, I will be highlighting reading’s impacts.
How does reading affect a child’s development? Reading stimulates part of a child’s brain to grow and be more active. Reading can widen a child’s vocabulary and comprehension ability. Through reading, children develop their empathy, build confidence, and expand their imagination. Crucial for a child’s emotional development is the good relationship between a parent and a child. This can be built early on as a parent reads to a child.
Reading impacts many more interesting areas on a child’s development. Being a pivotal life skill, reading pervades many aspects of life. It can build your child’s confidence, empathy, and creativity. All these far-reaching reading effects will be talked about below.
Reading is an Essential Life Skill
Reading plays a vital role in every aspect of our lives. Our generation is fortunate to have realized the importance of reading. Even so, the current generation is luckier. The reading tools and materials are readily available, and easily within their reach.
The value of reading is well-understood by our generation. This positive culture aids in instilling young minds the importance of reading.
Reading serves as a fundamental tool in acquiring new knowledge. Knowledge learned in school starts with one’s ability to read. Scientists have done a lot of research to understand how our brains react when we are reading. Their findings can help our children learn how to read and love reading.
Reading should start during the first five years of a child’s life. It is the age when the brain is developing rapidly. Dr. John Hutton, a lead researcher in Cincinnati Hospital and specializing in “emergent literacy,” experimented on how the children’s brains are responding when their parents are reading to them. They discovered that there is “growth in organized white matter in the learning and literacy area of the child’s brain.” This area is needed to support learning in school.
Another research entitled “Why Are Home Literacy Environment and Children’s Reading Skills Associated?” by the International Literacy Association discussed the significance of home literacy as the foundation of Reading skills. They emphasized the value of the availability of printed materials at home and the reading habits of the parent. A simple calendar can make a difference as long as parents use them to start a conversation and initiate learning.
The eagerness to read and learning to read starts from home. When the child starts school, the teacher will reinforce this acquired behavior. Not exposing children to any reading materials will cause them to struggle in learning.
However, being ready to acquire new knowledge is just a part of how reading can help children. There are other benefits that a developing child could get if they make reading a habit.
Reading Builds Confidence
Reading develops vocabulary, comprehension skills, and phonological understanding. This phonological understanding consists of patterns of speech and subtleties involved in pronunciation passively learned through reading. All this knowledge begins with reading at home.
When your child goes to school, the basics learned at home are reinforced. This happens through exposure of more difficult and complex reading materials at school. Being able to understand and verbalise these challenging reading materials build one’s confidence. Through their improving of reading mastery, you will likely observe their confidence in other areas of life flourish.
Further building of confidence can be quite simple. You can give praise and/or rewards for positive reading behavior. Whilst, you need to be mindful that everything needs to be balanced. You do not want your child to be overly-confident or lacking in confidence.
Lack of confidence can be a deal-breaker. A child might give up because he does not believe in himself anymore. Two possible outcomes are they will isolate themselves, or become bullies to protect themselves. I bet you won’t see any bullies who love to read.
Building self-confidence is one of the benefits of reading. If a child knows how to read, has a vast vocabulary and can communicate better, they will not shy away from any opportunities.
A self-confident child always raises their hands to answer a question or volunteer themselves as a leader. They even help their classmates in some of the challenging tasks. These traits and practices, if honed during their childhood, can be influential in their success.
Reading Helps Children Relate to Others
Readers can experience activities, events, or adventures through reading. They can go with Alice’s quests in Alice in Wonderland in just a few hours. They can enter Harry’s mind and know how he fought the dark side inside him in the Harry Potter books.
Reading allows a child to become a part of the battle inside a protagonist’s mind, weighing in what is right and wrong. They also feel the characters’ emotional response to different situations. This helps them be aware of how a particular situation can affect other people. That is something television, and gaming cannot provide.
Having the children feel what the characters think, helps them become more emphatic. These experiences, while reading, can demonstrate how to act appropriately in certain situations. They become aware of how the other person feels. It is becoming innate in them.
Can we imagine how better our world can be with more empathy? This is why psychologists advocate reading, despite having other options like animation or audiobooks.
Reading Nurtures Imagination and Creativity
Creativity is a powerful driver of technological developments. It is important to cultivate this creative force in our child.
Imagination is the ability to develop images or situations through the mind’s eye. Have you seen a child trying to play a scene from a book? They are trying to recreate the scenarios presented to them in a book and develop their own version of it. This is an example of your child practicing their own creativity.
Imaginative play is an essential outlet of our child’s overactive imagination. By doing this, they can perform challenging tasks. It can also develop their critical thinking skills through overcoming conflict, problems, and coming up with new possibilities. Thinking outside the box is a skill every scientist, entrepreneur, novelist, and every successful individual has.
A Chinese delegation in 2007 had interviewed the innovators of Microsoft, Google, and Apple about coming up with exceptional ideas. The interview revealed one common denominator; they all loved to read science fiction books as a child.
Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Thankfully, reading is there to stimulate the right side of our brain.
Reading to a Child Allows Parents to Build Closer Relationship
Building a good relationship between parents and children is very important for a child’s healthy emotional development. A good parental relationship provides emotional guidance for a child as it navigates difficult growth phases of life.
Parents reading with their child early on is an effective way to develop an emotional attachment. Through a bedtime reading routine when your child is young, you can provide a regular sense of constant comfort. This can turn into a pleasant memory when your child becomes older.
A bedtime reading session can be an excellent opportunity to spark conversations and impart valuable lessons. Stories can inspire your child to open up about their fears and ask questions. You can satisfy their curiosity, especially on sensitive subjects, rather than having them looking for answers elsewhere.
Reading Unlocks Children Life Potential
Reading plays an essential role in a child’s development. It is a fundamental skill that a child will need to learn, and best learned as early as possible. By learning to read, your child can develop better confidence, creativity, imagination, and ability to relate to others. As a parent, you can begin the development of your child’s reading ability by reading routinely to your child.
How can we make children love reading? Start early. Read illustrated storybooks to them during their toddler years and make it a bedtime routine. Discuss the book as you read, let them point at pictures and scan the book as they please. This helps develop their deep love for books, which translates into a lifelong habit for reading.
How can we decide what books to read? Give children the freedom to choose the books they want to read, but with your approval. It must be age-appropriate. Parents must be mindful of what books are allowed. Some websites can give a definitive guide on what a book contains.