What to Keep in Mind Before Your Child Starts Reading

Reading is an essential skill and is the key to the future. Children typically learn to read on their own around pre-K level, but it is never too early to expose your child to books and reading in general.

One of the most important things that parents can do is read to their children, but reading has more benefits than many people realize. Even if a child can not read on their own yet, reading along with your child can help them develop key language and speaking skills, it can help train them to become better listeners, and it can also help them think more abstractly, too.

As beneficial as reading to your children can be, it also helps to make it more engaging. Even if they cannot read on their own yet, they can still engage with the text and the story itself. Ask them questions, inspire discussion, inspire them with what-if’s. These sorts of engaging questions can help kids to interact with books more closely even if they cannot read themselves and can also help to boost reading comprehension skills when they do. Reading is not just about the act of identifying words correctly, it’s also about the story, the characters, and the journey. With narrative text, asking questions can help kids think critically about the story and encourage them to ask questions and make inferences. These skills can also easily be applied to informational text, such as that found in textbooks and other materials children will see in school. By engaging with the text, kids can develop skills that allow them to understand abstract concepts and develop essential problem-solving skills.

Most importantly, asking questions about books helps kids think about books before they’re even reading. By the time they are able to read on their own, kids will have already developed a personal relationship with reading and may already develop a love for books as well.

Why Talking Counts

Talking with Kids

As an adult, you may look to books or the internet if you want to expand your vocabulary. Seeing and experiencing words in action help you understand them and make it more likely for these new words to weave their way into your personal vocabulary. For children, reading is still a challenge, especially for children who are not yet ready to read on their own. You don’t have to wait until your child starts school to begin teaching them language or reading skills. In fact, you can start by simply talking to your children.

How do we learn words? How do we learn how to speak? Not many of us, if any, remember those early stages of learning how to talk. Learning how to verbally communicate is something that develops over time. Like learning a new language, it is said that immersing yourself in that language is the best way to teach it to yourself and improve your skills – and the same applies to children who are learning to speak for the first time. Kids learn by sight and sound, they learn by example and they are easily impressionable. Things that kids see, hear and taste will influence what they know and what they learn, and the words that your children hear around the house will certainly play a part in how their vocabulary develops.

Many adults and parents tend to baby talk to their children, meaning that they increase the pitch of their voice and simplify their way of speaking. This can help create a loving and welcome environment for the burgeoning minds of young children, and it is a great way to convey emotion and caring. However, it is also important that kids hear grown up language, too. Explain things around the house to your child, tell them about your day and have a real conversation with them, too. Not only will this help to expose your child to a wider range of vocabulary, but it will help them develop more complex language skills as well.

Communicating with Children

Speaking to your child shouldn’t be a one way street. No matter what your child asks or says, giving a detailed and informative response is helpful, too, no matter what it is. Language is not just about how many words you know. It is all about listening and communicating effectively. Kids who are exposed to more language, whether it be through books or conversation, are more likely to do better in school. Not only will it help their reading and writing skills, but these language skills can help them better understand concepts across subjects and it can benefit them socially, too.

Remember, it’s never too late to start talking to your baby. Even if they cannot fully understand what you are saying yet, they are still learning, and their minds and imaginations, are growing tenfold as a result.

Helpful Starter Tip: Perfect way to start conversations with your kids is to read together or walk through the pictures of a book.  Talk about the pictures and characters in the story.  This can be done at any age including toddlers.  Point to objects and say the word and have them repeat it, this will surely build their vocabulary in no time.