Reading is a critical skill that will support children with succeeding in school and in life. Research shows that reading to children from a young age can have a significant impact on their reading development and overall academic success. In this article, we’ll explore reading development in early childhood, the benefits of reading to children, the stages of reading comprehension in a child, and ways to help children who struggle with reading.
What is Reading Development in Early Childhood?Reading development in early childhood refers to the skills and abilities that children develop as they learn to read – these skills include phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
- Phonemic awareness – the ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds in spoken language.
- Phonics – the understanding that letters represent the sounds in spoken language.
- Vocabulary – the knowledge of words and their meanings.
- Fluency – the ability to read smoothly and at a good speed.
- Comprehension – the ability to understand and interpret what is being read.
Benefits of Reading to ChildrenThere are a lot of benefits of reading to children from a young age – as early as in the womb. Research has shown that reading to children can improve their communication and vocabulary skills, as well as their listening skills. It can also help them to develop a love of reading and a desire to learn, memory skills, concentration, and problem-solving skills – as well as enhancing emotional intelligence and social skills by exposing them to different perspectives and experiences.
The Importance of Reading to ChildrenReading to children is an important way to support many areas of their development, including their reading skills. Children who are read to often are exposed to a wider range of language and vocabulary than children who are not read to as much. Reading to children doesn’t mean just going through the language in a book, but discussing the images, asking questions and exploring the story! Some children struggle to focus when it comes to reading, so making sure the experience is fun and engaging is really important and just as impactful on their development.
Choosing the right booksIt’s important to choose books that are age-appropriate and engaging for children, for example sensory and imagery books would be more suitable for a younger child rather than a chapter book! Tips for choosing books for young children could include looking for books with simple language, colourful illustrations and images, and interactive elements like flaps or buttons. It’s also important to consider the child’s interests and choose books that will hold their attention and keep them engaged.
Creating a reading-friendly environmentSetting up a dedicated reading space or building a ‘home library’ of books, can encourage children (and adults) to read and foster a love of books. A reading-friendly environment should be comfortable and inviting, with a good reading light and a good selection of books. It’s a good idea to make sure the space is free from distractions and has a cosy place to sit – some comfy cushions in the corner of a room would do a great job.
Encouraging reading at homeParents and caregivers can encourage reading at home by encouraging dedicated reading time, modelling a love of reading themselves, and encouraging children to read a variety of materials, including books and magazines. Making reading a fun and enjoyable activity and not a chore will help children to appreciate the joy reading can bring! Having part of a daily routine dedicated to reading is a great way to encourage reading at home for young children, and can be as simple as a few pages of a bedtime story every day.
Stages of Reading Comprehension in a ChildReading comprehension is the ability to understand and interpret what is being read, children go through several stages of reading comprehension as they develop.
- The first stage is called the pre-reading stage, which happens before a child can read. Children are developing phonemic awareness and vocabulary through listening to and interacting with books.
- The next stage is the emergent reading stage, which occurs when a child is learning to read. Children are learning to decode words, connect them to their meanings and are beginning to understand simple storylines and characters.
- The third stage is the early reading stage, which occurs when a child becomes a more fluent reader. They are able to read more complex language and understand the main ideas and details of the story.
- The fourth and final stage is the proficient reading stage, which occurs when a child becomes a skilled reader. At this stage, children are able to understand and analyse language, make connections to their own lives and the world around them.