Reading to Your Child: When to Start, Why & How

As they are the people a new-born child is exposed to most in their early life, families are considered the primary source of learning for an infant. And infants are always learning, no matter the activity. 

It might not be immediately obvious, but they are taking in everything that is going on around them, for it’s all new at this stage; they’re almost a blank canvas and anything that happens around them becomes a significant stroke on the portrait that is their up-to-now brief life. 

Families are important in this process of development but it’s a child’s parents, who are usually the first and certainly the most important teachers, that will have the strongest impact on a child’s early progress. It therefore falls to the child’s parents to consider just what they can do to do right by the child, and help set them up, as early as possible, for success in the world. 

Reading is one of the most significant lessons a child can learn and teaching your children to read and write is critical to their development, for it increases their potential in the world in ways you can’t even imagine. Writing allows a person to be able to think and coherently order their arguments, a skill they will be able to carry for all their life. It’s equally as important as reading, though you can’t write if you can’t read.

Research has shown that a child’s literacy learning begins well before formal schooling and some studies have also noted the positive impact that can be taken from reading to your child prenatally, as odd as that may sound and feel.

This article takes a look into when you should begin reading to your baby, how often you should read and how long for, plus the reasons why reading to your little one is so significant to their growth. 

Let’s explore how you can encourage a love of reading in your child…

Why is Reading to Children so Important?

There are lots of reasons why reading to your child regularly is vital. Here are a few...

Encourages Language Acquisition

Most children begin to babble around 6-12 months and have spoken their first word by the age of 14 months. By the time they have reached 18 months, they will have begun using language in a more recognisable way and it's likely that you start will hear them talking before this point. 

Your child will naturally be encouraged to speak more if you are continually talking to them and by reading to them often you are doing just this. They will hear more words and their progress on the way to competent verbal communication will be much faster.

Builds the Habit of Reading

Frequently reading with your child from as early on as possible increases the likelihood that they will continue to read throughout their life, eventually without your help.

The more they read when they are young, the more of a habit it will become, and as reading helps improve memory, focus, ability to learn and much more, this is a huge positive.

Accelerates Social Development

Reading to or with your children, no matter what age they are, is vital for their development and comes with astonishing benefits.

Not only does it help develop the bond between your child and you, through the attention being given to them, but it assists in their emotional and social development, helping to prepare them for school life and all the challenges that come with it.

Improves Vocabulary 

Regular reading will increase anyone's vocabulary and this is no different in children, for reading often will expose them to new words and ideas.

A rich and expansive vocabulary will allow them to become more effective communicators, which will increase the likelihood of occupational success and allow them to think deeper and express their ideas more clearly.

How Often Should You Read to Your Child?

The short answer is you should read to them as often as you can.

A pediatrician's advice would ordinarily be to try and read to/with your child at least three times a week. This is only a rule of thumb however; if you wish to read more often to your child then more power to you - they'll only benefit from it.

If you can find time to read to your child every day then that’s fantastic and is definitely something to aim for. It might only last a few minutes as your baby’s attention span will only be short to begin with, but as they get older their attention span will grow and they’ll be able to handle longer, more complex stories.

Reading at such a young age is exposure based, so the more words and vocabulary your child hears and begins to understand, the more they will learn. Regularly expose them to reading and the more they will take in and the more access they'll have to the benefits of reading.

When Should You Start Reading to Your Child?

Start reading to your child as early as you can. The sooner the better.

The earlier you can begin reading to your child, the more beneficial it will be to them.

Pediatricians normally recommend you begin reading at least before they reach eighteen months old however beginning much earlier will only enhance and accelerate the skills they will gain. 

Research has shown that even prenatal reading has a positive impact on a child’s ability and so the faster you can begin reading to your little one, the better. It might feel a little odd, reading aloud to your stomach, however remember it’s all for a good cause.

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