Did you know research shows that learning to read is one of the most significant factors in school achievement and that early exposure to books and stories greatly contributes to success in initial literacy? There are strong links between literacy, school performance, self-esteem and opportunities in life - with poor literacy skills being linked with lower education, earnings, health and social outcomes.
When we read, we look at and comprehend the meaning of written or printed matter by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed. Sounds easy, right? From birth, children are developing their talking and listening skills. These skills provide the foundation for reading and writing. Before school, some children may identify familiar letters, repeat rhymes and songs, ask for the same book to be read over and over, and start to make writing marks on all kinds of surfaces (much to their parent’s distress). This is proof that they are well on their way to becoming readers and writers way before school even begins.
If you want to encourage children to develop their literacy skills and embrace a love of reading from a young age, here are a few suggestions:
- Read to your child every day
- Let your child see you read for enjoyment and for information
- Allow your child to ‘read’ to you using the pictures or their memory
- Expose your child to many books – letting them just open them, look at them and manipulate them
- Visit the public library
- Observe, note and read signs, logos and other environmental print
- Talk, discuss and ask questions – encourage your child to do the same
- Most of all - make it fun!
It is important to ensure that reading is seen as enjoyable as well as functional, to ensure a lifelong love of reading that serves to enrich and educate your child well into their adult life.
Sara Drebber is an educational consultant, teacher, writer and mother of three.