Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why You Should Read To Your Child

The Benefits of Reading to Your Child

Reading to and with your child is one of the most important and enjoyable experiences you can share with your child to promote learning and instill the love of learning in your child. There are simple steps you can take to ensure your child is getting the most out of reading.

What is reading? 

Reading is the recognition and interpretation of the meanings of a printed word or symbol and of groups of words or symbols. Reading is about making meanings from print, recognizing groups of printed words and images in the book and then interpreting their meanings. Reading to your child involves you speaking the written word, your child hearing the sounds you make and then interpreting them. This involves your child in a process of constructing meaning from printed words or symbols.

How language develops between three and six years of age

Between the ages of three and six years, pronunciation improves markedly. Word coinage forms expand. Metaphors appear based on concrete, sensory comparisons. Sentences reflect an appreciation of adult grammatical categories. Grammatical skills expand and develop, and grammatical structures are added. Conversational strategies appear that help sustain interaction, such as taking turns. At school entry, children usually possess a vocabulary of about 10 000 words. Meanings are grasped on the basis of how words are used. There is also the beginning of an appreciation of multiple meaning attached to words. This leads to an expanded understanding of metaphors and humor.

From six to ten years of age there is a mastering of pronunciations signaling subtle differences in meaning. A few complex grammatical structures such as the passive voice continue to be refined. Advanced conversational strategies appear like shades of meaning. There is an expansion of the understanding of illocutionary intent, and an improvement in referential communication. Metalinguistic awareness develops rapidly and is enhanced by and contributes to mastery of literacy.

Terms explained:

illocutionary intent - what the speaker intends to say, regardless of whether what he or she actually says is consistent with the intention

referential communication - the ability to produce clear verbal messages and to recognize when the meaning of others' messages is unclear

metalinguistic awareness - the ability to think about language as a system

Why is reading to children important?

As a teaching technique, reading to or with children is used to help them construct meanings about the world around them. Reading for enjoyment - reading books and stories is one of the most common ways in which you read to or with your child to facilitate learning at any age. Babies and toddlers will enjoy the experience, too.

The story method of reading is really a form of word and picture play and is an immediately pleasurable activity to engage your child in and to share a meaningful exchange of ideas.


How do you read to your  child?

The following tips will help you facilitate a high quality reading experience with your child:

The books you read to or with your child should:
  • match your child's interest - short adventures with lots of images are particularly well suited to the young child as they often feature characters and storylines young children relate to
  • not frighten your child
  • feature familiar situations to help young children interpret the world around them
  • explore feelings children can understand
  • have pictures and appropriate language to match your child's age.



How to help your child develop a love of books and reading?

Knowing how to read to, or with, your child is a vital skill so that learning can actually take place.

Before you share a story with your child, make sure that:
  • your child is sitting or lying comfortably - children concentrate best when they're comfortable and settled
  • you read to your child in a clear voice and in ways that enable them to readily see any pictures related to the words being read
  • you show enthusiasm for reading and enjoyment in the story to immerse your child in the experience.

Motivate your children to learn 

The years from five to eight are significant in the development of the motivation to learn. Emerging cognitive abilities help young children to evaluate whether they are successful or unsuccessful in school. Children become very aware of their progress and their ability to control success. This can be very confusing. When a five to six year old child has his or her picture praised, others will copy it in the hope and expectation of receiving equal praise. They are very puzzled and hurt when copying is not valued as highly as originality and the praise wanes with the level of mass production.

One of the significant cognitive achievements in the over-five age group is the acquisition of the ability to think about and solve problems in their heads. As this mental ability (known as metacognition) grows, children develop their own systems for organizing and remembering things. Once they master metacognition, they plan strategies for games, understand jokes and riddles, and address how others might think and feel. The opportunity to engage in hands-on materials helps them to have concrete reference points in their encounter with new information. When children can write, they should be encouraged to record findings to supplement concrete materials.

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