Jolyn Brand, independent education consultant, mom of four and a former teacher with a Masters degree, says, "The benefits of teaching reading skills early are numerous. There have been several studies that have shown that preschoolers who have been introduced to books and been read to start out kindergarten more prepared than their peers who have not. Toddlers will learn how books work (front to back, how to turn pages) and that words and letters have sounds. They will also learn to enjoy books and reading."
John Paul Engel, educator and author of Project Be the Change, says his mother used to read to him at the kitchen table every day. He explains how you can assist with the learning process: "To teach a child to read, have a set time that you read with them every day. Read a book with them in your lap and follow along with your finger as you read the words. Let the child pick the book you will read to them. After several weeks of doing this, start to ask them to fill in some of the easier words. Give them whatever help they need. Then, help them read a sentence out loud. Eventually, you want them to start reading the bedtime stories to you."
Marina Koestler Ruben, professional tutor and the author of How to Tutor Your Own Child: Boost Grades and Inspire a Lifelong Love of Learning--Without Paying for a Professional Tutor (August 2011), says that helping your child develop early reading skills can allow them to "read to their peers, which provides additional reading practice and allows them to serve as leaders and teachers."
She adds that developing your child's early reading skills will also help with confidence in the classroom via "the obvious perk of being comfortable in class and not struggling to keep up with material written on the board or on handouts." And if you haven't started reading with your child yet, don't feel bad! Just pick up a book and start the pattern now. Koestler Ruben adds, "It's never too soon for a pastime that occupies, entertains and teaches!"
Early reading can help your child develop critical thinking skills, according to special education teacher Jennifer Brannon. She says, "Preschool through kindergarten is primarily focused on letter/sound recognition, which means developing phonemic awareness skills and in kindergarten, phonics. Children are reading in kindergarten and in first grade they are expected to start thinking critically and answering questions about what they read. One strong way of fostering these critical-thinking skills is to ask questions when you read to/with your child. For example, 'why do you think (that character) did that? What would you do? What do you think will happen next? Why?'"
GoGoNews mompreneur Golnar Khosrowshahi found that after she started her online news site for children, she and her kids were having remarkable conversations -- both serious and funny -- centered around the articles they were reading on the site. A study recently conducted by the Dutch Programme Council for Educational Research based in Den Haag showed that parents who engage young children in serious conversations seem to boost their children's language proficiency. Golnar says that reading news that is actively written for children will lead to more cognizant kids, as well as increase their reading comprehension.
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