CHILDREN MUST BE READ TO AND TAUGHT TO READ AT AN EARLY AGE
Albert Einstein once said, ‘If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.’
Early exposure to reading can be an important component of a child's development. Many studies have shown that children who read everyday have a larger range of vocabulary than those who don't read at all. Reading exposes the young child to a world of different perspectives, opinions and attitudes. The child begins to understand different faces of the world which helps enhance his/her understanding towards the world.
A study was conducted in Rhone Island Hospital to compare two groups of eight month old- one group was read to often as babies while other was not. It was shown that those who were read to have their “receptive” vocabularies increased 40% since babyhood, while non-reading group increased by only 16%.
Here are a few benefits of early exposure to reading:
1. Improves vocabulary
We all know that reading plays a major role in improving vocabulary. One of the go- to ways of improving vocabulary is to read. As you read to a toddler, s/he hears new words and connects it with pictures. The young child begins to understand and learn different words with similar meanings.
2. Expands language development
As the child listens to the story, s/he reinforces basic sounds that form language. When they go about reading on their own, it further enhances their vocabulary which makes them more fluent and well-spoken.
3. Improves patience
Reading can also help develop patience in a child at an early stage. Each story has a beginning, climax and denouement. As the child listens to the story, s/he becomes curious to know what's next in the story but with this curiosity they also learn to become more patient and wait to know what will happen next. They begin to understand the flow or order of events which take place.
4. Expands imagination
Each child is blessed with a unique imagination. Reading just helps the child enhance the existing imagination. While reading, we all develop a visual image of the characters, the events and we relate to them. Similarly the child starts linking these characters to his/her own feelings and identifies with them. For example- after reading Cinderella, a girl might identify herself as having good qualities like Cinderella.
5. Develops the brain
According to a study published in Pediatrics, children who had been exposed to home reading showed a greater activation of a brain area related to multi-sensory integration (sound and visual stimulation). Also, according to Dr. John Hutton, ‘reading helps build brain networks that offers the child long-term benefits when s/he moves from verbal to reading.’
6. Enhances concentration
Do you want your child to sit still for longer periods of time? Reading is to your rescue. When you consistently read to your child, s/he learns to focus on one thing and will concentrate on sitting in one place for longer periods of time. As they listen to what you're saying, they develop the need to understand and comprehend the meaning of your story which in turn enhances their levels of concentration.
7. Thirst for knowledge
One of the stories which my mother told me as a child was – The Thirsty Crow. As a child, I was amazed to know that throwing stones in a pot of water can raise the level of water in the pot. Similarly, when a child is exposed to different stories with a variety of concepts, the exploratory behaviour of the child expands. S/he becomes more active in learning and takes interest in whatever s/he is learning.
8. Exposure to the world
It is very difficult to expect a child to learn and understand about the realities of the world. Children can be immature when it comes to understanding the realities of life but with that we must not forget that children have the sharpest minds. At this tender age, they can grasp any and everything, no matter what the quantity of information is.
Thus it becomes very important to inculcate good habits from the start. As you read to the child, s/he gains an insight to different cultures, different perspectives, relationships and realities.
9. Academic success
Indian education system is primarily about learning through reading. When the child is already exposed to reading from an early age, s/he falls in love with the process of reading. Hence, s/he doesn't find it extremely difficult to learn in school. They also have improved attention spans, better vocabulary and an open mind to understand their peers. All of this combined contributes in the academic success of the child.
We all have had some or the other memories with reading in our lives. We ought to make it memorable for the coming generation too!