With so many things to fit into every day, domestic duties, work, driving to and from various activities, taking care of family members, it is normally very challenging to just, well make it through the day. Life is, frankly, very busy.
However, I would like to challenge each of us, especially those of us with children to make every effort to include reading as a regular part of daily activities.
The experts say to read at least 20 minutes daily. There is a wealth of research supporting daily reading with your child especially prior to and during the learning to read period. Prolonging the exercise into part of regular daily routine yield life-long benefits. There are seven (7) long term benefits associated with cultivating regular reading habits which I endorse having had firsthand experience over the years of raising my son.
- Reading is “brain food”. Our brains develop as we “feed” them with experiences through the books read. Our memory makes connections between what we already know about the topic of the story and its content. The new information learned through reading is integrated into the existing base, further strengthening and expanding the network of knowledge. Reading provides one of the most enriching and complex brain activities available in life.
- Reading improves listening skills. The experience of being read to helps children develop good listening skills by keying them into the components of language. Through reading they learn to recognize the building blocks of language, to learn new words for their oral vocabularies, connect the words and apply to their surroundings.
- Reading builds early literacy skills. Reading aloud to your child is one of the main ways to help develop phonic awareness. There is a clear connection between between letters and sound. When you read with your child it is made clear to them that print is a representation of the words you say aloud. Repeated experiences with reading allow this understanding to grow. A most significant factor in a child’s ability to read well is early experiences being read aloud to.
- Reading prepares children for kindergarten. Children with a good reading experience are better equipped for formal, early education. Reading books to and with our children helps to make them more receptive to learn the basics taught in kindergarten. Further, studies indicate that children who have repeatedly been exposed to books from birth generally exhibit strong reading abilities.
- Reading improves academic performance. There is a strong correlation between a child’s ability to read and her academic performance. Reading is core to most subjects in school thus strong reading skills drives success in school.
- Reading makes “cents”. Research indicates that for every year that a person spends reading (either independently or being read aloud to), his/her lifetime earning potential goes up considerably. Time investment of approximately 87 hours a year (20 minutes a day for 5 days a week), can increase your child’s ability to support him or herself in the future considerably.
- Reading improves parent-child relationships. The daily grind makes it a challenge to have “quality” one-on-one time with our children without distractions. Building 20 minutes into each day for reading together provides important bonding time. Even as the child moves beyond the foundation years, it is important to maintain the reading relationship, as a key component in overall family relations.
The reading relationship needs not be a static, fixed space engagement nor the strict adherence to the 20 minute advisory. There is the option of integrating reading into other activities throughout the day. Having the child/children read out loud during clothes folding or dish washing, arriving at another activity such as football or dancing lessons and reading related material. Post activities is another option. An example, alternate ending of a movie or television feature read over snacks add additional opportunities for further discussion.
It is imperative that the exercise not be viewed as a chore or a bore but rather a special adventure or time for the family that is actively cultivated. It will be cherished into the long term and can even become the source of excellent family quips and memories. A favourite that is held against me to this day, ‘mother, read what you see please’.
Happy reading and cultivating an excellent family habit with long term, multiple rewards.