One of the few proven factors for increasing educational performance is reading. Books are a part of most children growing up, but I don’t think we value the significant impact reading has on young people. My educational background gives me a real insight into the real life impact of literacy on children and the long-lasting legacy of reading from a young age is apparent even as their education ends.
Reading to your child tends to begin as an activity integrated into a routine. Even at this early stage, the association of rhythm and tone have an impact on a child’s acquisition of language. As children get older, their ability to voice and mimic sounds tend to be associated with texts they have been read repeatedly, so reading to your child is of huge importance, even at the earliest stages.
As object recognition increases, so do word sound associations. The ability to vocalise words is something we learn from other around us and as a parent you are a role model for your little one. Building up vocabulary is a by-product of reading. There’s no better way of increasing your vocabulary than extensive reading (little tip) and it’s never too late to start. Immersing children in words means that they are exposed to a huge variety of phrases and ideas, all of which help them to better understand the world.
In a day and age that is based solely on speed and convenience, it’s so easy to plonk your baby in front of the TV. People argue that interactive programs are of equivalent value to books when it comes to language acquisition…that’s up to the individual, but in my eyes, reading is always going to be the most linguistically stimulating cognitive process.
Moving the focus slightly from language acquisition, reading is also an incredible stimulator for creativity. Even if you’re not a “reader” yourself, I’m sure there’s that one book you’ll always remember – maybe from school? Maybe from holiday? Books have a huge impact on people and they can be really influential.
In a recent poll of 2,000 parents in the UK found just 17% of children have imaginary friends, revealing a rapid decline since 2001, when a study found almost half of British kids had an invented playmate. The findings are backed up by a recent social science study revealing that children classed as ‘heavy viewers’ of screened technology demonstrated noticeably less creativity compared to ‘light viewers’. The study concluded that with stimulation and creativity found readily made on screens, children aren’t learning the need to develop it for themselves because they aren’t being encouraged to through activities like reading.
I don’t even care if it sounds geeky, reading is one of the most important things ever (potentially slightly over the top) and I hope that as my boy grows up he sees the value in it too.