Teaching your children to read well is one of the best gifts you can give them in life. It is the core of all other subjects and a foundation for future success.
Do you know the best place to begin?
By reading aloud to your children daily and from a very young age.*
Our oldest daughter had been in kindergarten for just three months when I met with the school principal to remove her from school to homeschool her. Thirty years later, I still remember his parting advice – take her home and love her and read to her. That was easy, we had been doing that from the start.
We don’t just need to take my word for it or the school principal’s word for it. The studies have been done and the evidence is clear – reading to our children from a young age paves the way for life-long success.
According to the National Commission on Reading, “The single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school.” If you haven’t already instituted the habit of reading to your young children, make it a priority to do it now. It’s easy enough and only takes a few minutes a day.
According to another study, “By the age of 2, children who are read to regularly display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers.” Imagine that! By the age of just two! And again, in just a few minutes a day.
“The nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud encourages children to form a positive association with books and reading later in life.” (Reach Out and Read, Archives of Disease in Childhood, Reading Aloud to Children: The Evidence, 2008) Do you want your child to be a life-long reader and learner? Here’s the key. Take the time now to sit on your couch and enjoy some good books together.
And how easy is it to read aloud to your young children? If you keep age-appropriate books by your favorite chair, then when you’re ready to sit down for a few minutes, you’re ready to read.
How long does it take to read a book like The Hungry Little Caterpillar by Eric Carle or Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans? Less than five minutes.
It does require setting aside our phone, or what otherwise might distract us. It can be way too easy to trade the significance of ensuring our child’s future success for our own trivial distractions.
It’s 35 years later for me now, and I attribute much of our adult kids’ success to just this. The humble beginning of introducing our children to books and reading aloud to them from a young age has created life-long learners who have nothing holding them back from anything they choose to do.
*If your children are too old to be impacted in this way by reading aloud to them, consider this statistic.
“Creating a steady stream of new, age-appropriate books has been shown to nearly triple interest in reading within months.” (Harris, Louis. An Assessment of the Impact of First Book’s Northeast Program. January 2003) Spending some quality time with your “older” child at the local library could spark all kinds of new interests, including tripling their interest in reading itself!
Also, children at any age enjoy having books from a higher reading level read aloud to them. Our children’s ages stretched from toddlers to teenagers when my husband read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series. Our regular read-aloud time was before bed, but sometimes we were so into it that we couldn’t wait until the next evening and would have to sit down and read more over lunch!
Many times when our children were growing up, I would hear one child reading aloud to another as I would walk by their bedrooms. These, too, are educational, memorable and bonding times as the children share the experience.
No other activity is more educational and bonding than reading aloud to our children, and it’s so easy. If you are not already in that daily habit, will you give it a try today?