The love for reading starts early

3 min read   •   August 15, 2019
Dr Ronelle Venter: Educational Psychologist

With the exception of dyslexia, which is a neurological disorder, too many learners display reading problems, whether it is a delay in reading speed, reading accuracy or reading comprehension. Upon obtaining background information from parents, their child “never liked reading” and struggled since onset of formal schooling. Further enquiry showed that these parents never (or seldom) spent time with their preschool child by reading to them.

“There is no app for a lap.” The love for reading starts on a parent’s lap. A child from as young as six months old – even earlier – safely cuddled in his parent’s arms, looking at pictures, listening to his parent’s voice, will associate books with love and affection. Continued interaction between parent, child and books, stimulates a love for books, an interest in reading and a positive association with books. A child never forgets the feeling of love and safety during reading together with a parent – resulting in a positive attitude towards reading and a special bond with the parent.

A child’s development is rapid and crucial in his/her first five years. The benefits of a reading-together experience from a very young age, apart from the above-mentioned, are multiple and reading benefits include:

  • Listening to stories stimulates the ability to visualise (imagine) – thus forming a picture/image of the story. Unfortunately, learners who lacked hearing stories and rhymes and who were given iPads, PlayStations, access to television and cellphones from a young age, did not learn how to visualise, as they get immediate visual input from these different types of media. The result is that – when they study – they cannot visualise or form a picture of the lesson material.
  • Reading with comprehension and discussing stories with the older toddler, helps them to learn to distinguish between cause and effect, that every action has a reaction and that one should take responsibility for choices made.
  • Vocabulary and the use of language are developed – an extremely important asset in academic achievement.
  • Observation skills are developed.
  • With the correct guidance, a child learns to have empathy for others.
  • By paging through the book, a child learns to distinguish between left and right, which also has an impact on eye movement and midline crossing – which is an essential skill in academic work.
  • Attention span and the ability to arrange events are better than those children who disliked reading stories.

If the child enjoys the reading experience, they will become lifelong readers. In addition, their reading skills will improve: They will learn to read earlier, better and with greater ease when they enter school.