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Benefits to Teaching Early Childhood Reading

 June 30, 2020

By  Cheryl Jerabek

Prior to learning to read, it is important for a child to learn the spoken English language.  This process is a time when members of the family like moms, dads, siblings, and even grandparents contribute to teaching little ones.  No matter if the youngster realizes they are learning or not, they are gaining an early exposure to vital prerequisites to reading - like the alphabet and phonetic sounds. 

The exposure can come in subtle ways such as a parent singing the alphabet song or a sibling reciting the alphabets.  Language skills start to develop when babies are spoken to or read to.  Exposure to books, reading, and the letters of the alphabet is a priceless pathway to learning to read. 

Nursery rhymes are one of the best forms of children’s literature you can read to your young child.  Children’s books, especially those with interesting sounds and catchy rhymes, are great as well.  When reading your child a book, it’s a good idea to let him or her look at the words to begin to familiarize them with the printed alphabet in text.

When you talk to your little one, you are exposing them to the English language.  It doesn’t matter if they understand what you are saying or not as long as you are communicating in words and sounds.  The more often you talk to them, the more they will be able to comprehend over time.  Exposure is the key to catching on to language and catching on to language plays a huge role in learning to read.

When your little one becomes familiar with language, you can start to teach them to read.  It doesn’t matter how young they are as long as they have some comprehension of the English language.  If they don’t understand English, being taught to read might be overwhelming to them.

Parents frequently comment that they are afraid of pushing their child to learn to read.  They often express being afraid the attempt will backfire.  In order for that to be a possibility, reading would fall under the category of an undesirable chore. 

As the parent, you have an immeasurable amount of influence on how your child views reading.  Your attitude about it will be the prime factor when you child decides whether to think reading is fun or not.  The benefits of teaching your child to read at an early age are many.  It is worth the effort to be sure you present it as a fun activity and not a chore.

It is common for parents to underestimate their young child’s learning abilities.  I know that I am personally guilty of doing so.  My little boy was not quite 3 when I began a program to teach him to read.  I was shock when he caught on so quickly.  Almost immediately, with a minimal help, he was working at the step 2 level which is a preschool through first grade level.  I was astonished that he was not just reading words, but entire sentences and books too.  It also became apparent that the clarity of his speech, ability to read, and comprehension of the reading material were steadily improving with each lesson. 

There are a multitude of studies that prove that teaching young children to read is tremendously advantageous.  A Stanford achievement study was given to young students at the beginning of kindergarten and at the end of first grade which revealed that language skills acquired early in life are extremely relative to their school-age academic performance. [1]

In studies that were similar to the Stanford one, it has been confirmed that kindergarteners who possess a good knowledge of the alphabets are more likely to have high literacy skills later on as well.[2]

Exhaustive research has also made known that youngsters who have home environments that are conducive to learning literacy are more likely to succeed because the conditions they are in directly influence their language and literacy development.  Parental support within the environment of the home is very important in order for children to engage in early learning.[3]Those who are fortunate enough to have such a support system are much more likely to have success with systematic type of education in reading.[4]

If you are feeling guilty that you’ve not worked with your young child yet, don’t worry.  It’s not too late.  You can begin teaching your child to read at home anytime.  It doesn’t matter their age.

It’s also never too early to begin to teach your child reading lessons.  You can begin the process by singing, talking, and reading to your child.  The benefits of doing so are immense.  It is something you will never regret doing. 

Once your child becomes familiar with the English language, you can begin to actually implement reading lessons.  Start by teaching your little one a few basic sounds of letters.  When they understand a couple of letter sounds, you can start to blend the letters they’ve learned.  Training your child to recognize letters and sounds both by hearing and by sight is ideal.  One very important method of learning sounds of letters is phonemic awareness development.  Research shows that children who learn phonemic awareness have a definite cutting edge in school. 

Lessons don’t have to be intense or perfect.  Just a little knowledge will help boost your child’s reading and language skills.  You can implement lessons into playtime or when waiting at the dentist office or driving in the car.  Make learning and reading fun and your child will follow suit.  Remember, you set the standards.  You are the one who ultimately makes the choice whether to present learning to read a fun activity or a chore.

In order to get the most out of teaching your child to read, you may want to implement an early childhood reading program like many parents have had great success with.  Especially if you are not a certified teacher, such programs make teaching your child easy.  However you decide to go about it, it is highly recommended that to do teach your child to read at the earliest age possible.

If you’re looking for a great method for teaching reading, check out this one.

We’ve also written a review on the Reading Head Start program.

References:

1. Percept Mot Skills. 2001 Apr;92(2):381-90.
Relationship between language skills and academic achievement in first grade.
Kastner JW, May W, Hildman L.
Department of Pediatrics, Child Development Clinic, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson 39216, USA.

2. J Exp Child Psychol. 1996 Jun;62(1):30-59.
Kindergarten letter knowledge, phonological skills, and memory processes: relative effects on early literacy.
Näslund JC, Schneider W.
University of New Mexico, College of Education, Program in Educational

3. J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2005 Apr;48(2):345-59.
The role of home literacy practices in preschool children's language and emergent literacy skills.
Roberts J, Jurgens J, Burchinal M.
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute,The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 27599-8180, USA.

4. Psychol Rep. 1994 Apr;74(2):403-7.
Kindergarten predictors of first-grade reading achievement: a regular classroom sample.
McCormick CE, Stoner SB, Duncan S.
Psychology Department, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston 61920.

Cheryl Jerabek


Cheryl Jerabek lives in a tiny remote town in Southwestern Colorado. She writes full-time from her cabin nestled in the mountains. She often expresses how lucky she feels to be able to do what she loves from a setting that looks like a postcard. When she’s not writing, Cheryl loves hanging out with her husband and two grown children, her dog, Joe, and adores spending time with her three grandchildren.

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