Advantages of Teaching Children Reading Early

Before a child learns to read, he or she must first learn the spoken language, and this is one of the first instances where family members such as dad, mom, older siblings, and grandparents play an important role in “teaching” the child the spoken English language. Whether young children realize it or not, they gain very early exposure to the alphabet when parents sing the alphabet song to them. They begin to develop language skills by being read to and spoken to. One of the keys to teaching children reading early on is by exposing them to alphabet letters, books, and reading to them often.

Reading nursery rhymes and children’s books are an important part of getting children to understand the printed text. Talk to your children, and talk to them often, whether they understand or not is not important when they’re just babies. The more you talk and interact with your little ones, the better they will develop. The key is exposure, and repeated exposure. Once your child learns to speak, you can begin teaching them reading at home.

I often hear parents say that they don’t want to “push” their child too hard. How can teach your child to read at a young age be considered “pushing” them too hard? If you as a parent already have the mentality that reading is a chore, and teaching them to read is pushing “too hard”, you certainly can’t expect your children to be excited about learning reading. On the contrary, learning to read offers a young child an opportunity for a lifetime to learn, discover, and enjoy the wonders of reading. Parents (including myself) will often underestimate the abilities and learning capabilities of young children. When we first began our teaching reading program with our first child when she was 2 years and 8 months, little did we expect that in just a few short weeks, she would be reading not just words, but sentences and storybooks? After about 3 months, by the time she was 2 years 11 months old, our daughter could read “Step into Reading – step 2 (pre-school to grade 1 level)” books with some guidance. The benefits of learning to read were apparent – improved speech clarity, and better reading ability and reading comprehension.

There is no shortage of studies which find many benefits in teaching children reading at an early age. For example, one study administered a Stanford achievement test at the start of kindergarten and then again at the end of grade one found that early language-based skills were highly associated with later academic performance in school-aged children. [1]Similar studies also found that a high level of letter knowledge in kindergarten can reliably predict better later literacy skills.[2] Having a home environment that’s conducive to literacy growth is critical in a child’s development, and directly affects a child’s language and literacy development. Studies have found that responsiveness and support of the home environment is the strongest predictor of children’s language and early literacy skills. [3] My point here helps make parents aware that children who enter kindergarten with highly developed early reading skills will achieve greater success with systematic reading education. [4]

It’s never too late to start home lessons and programs to teach your children to read. Regardless of how old your child is, starting a reading program at a young age will have ample benefits. Start with lots of talking, singing, and reading to your child right from birth, and once your child is able to speak, you can start a simple reading program.

Begin with teaching your child some basic letters and their sounds, and even as soon your child learns just a few letters and their sounds, you can begin teaching them simple blends using the letter knowledge that they have acquired. Work on ear training with your child on oral blending and word segmentation. One of the keys to teaching children read is developing phonemic awareness. Studies have shown that phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of reading success in children.

>> Click here to learn about a simple, yet effective step-by-step teaching Children reading program

Notes:

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.

 

Teaching a Child to Read at an Early Age

Did you know that 38% of grade four students have reading abilities below the lowest basic level as determined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)? The NAEP is the only ongoing survey of what students knew and tracks their performance in various academic subjects for the United States. In their report, the NAEP found that 38% of grade four students had reading achievement below basic levels, with a basic level reading score being 208.

To put things in perspective, the US reading scale has an upper limit score of 500, with average reading scores for grade 4 (217), grade 8 (264), and grade 12 (291). The grade 4 reading achievement levels are categorized by the NAEP as Advanced (268 scores), Proficient (238 scores), and Basic (208 scores), and the basic reading achievement level is defined as follows by the NAEP:

Fourth-grade students performing at the Basic level should demonstrate an understanding of the overall meaning of what they read. When reading text appropriate for fourth graders, they should be able to make relatively obvious connections between the text and their own experiences and extend the ideas in the text by making simple inferences. [1]

Unfortunately, over a third of all grade, four students read at levels even below basic. Is your child having reading difficulties? Research on Phonemic Awareness has found that early reading helps improves a child’s reading and spelling abilities. In fact, the National Reading Panel has concluded based on their massive review of over 1,900 studies that teaching phonics and phonemic awareness produces better reading results than whole language programs.

There are numerous documented benefits and advantages of teaching children to read early on, and teaching them to read using phonics and phonemic awareness instructions. It is clear that early language and reading ability development passes great benefits to the child as they progress through school at all grades, and that early language and reading problems can lead to learning problems later on in school. For example, a Swedish study found that children with a history of reading problems at school entry scores significantly below average on reading in grade 4. As well, children that show very low interest in books and story reading before age 5 also scored similarly low on sentence reading in grade 4. [2] This is just one of many studies which have similar findings, and this makes it an imperative for parents to begin exposing their children to books and reading at an early age.

So how early?

Good question!

There’s no set guideline on when you should start teaching your children to read; however, you can start cultivating your child’s love for books and reading as soon as they’re born. Obviously, very young babies would not even know what books are, however, talking to your child and reading to your child will help them develop a keen liking for books and stories. As your child grows and gets older, avoid TV-sitting them because as they develop a dependency on television as their main source of entertainment, it becomes very difficult to dislodge that need for TV entertainment and get them to enjoy reading books. Instead, keep age-appropriate books all around the house, and read to them often. You’ll find that they’ll start picking up books and pretend to read themselves, although, at very early ages, they still cannot read.

People typically think that kindergarten or grade one would be an appropriate time for their children to start reading; however, this is not the best approach as studies have repeatedly found that children with good phonemic awareness before entering kindergarten continues to outperform, and achieve exceptional reading and spelling abilities as they progress through school. On the other hand, children who enter school with reading difficulties may continue to have reading and spelling difficulties.

Click here to learn how to easily and quickly teach your child to read.

 

Notes:

1. NAEP 1998 Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States
March 1999
Authors: Patricia L. Donahue, Kristin E. Voelkl, Jay R. Campbell, and John Mazzeo

2. J Learn Disabil. 1999 Sep-Oct;32(5):464-72.
Early language development and kindergarten phonological awareness as predictors of reading problems: from 3 to 11 years of age.
Olofsson A, Niedersøe J.
Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Sweden.