Isn’t it strange?
After waiting ever so impatiently to become a parent, we seldom allow ourselves to feel the joy of parenthood.
As soon as the baby is born, we’re already worrying about their future and how to make them excel at all things “grown-up.”
And one issue that often keeps parents up at night is when and how soon should their children start reading.
This is normal. We just want the best for our kids and to give them a head start when they attend school.
If you can relate, then this article is for you.
All About the “Right Age”
Children usually learn to read between 3 years to 5 years old. Although studies show plenty of evidence to suggest that they can start learning at an earlier age.
Some children show a great love for learning and reading before they’re 2 years old. And some take their own sweet time, learning to decode the language pattern well into the second grade.
We believe there’s no “right age” for children regarding learning. It’s always a good idea to start early.
Which is why we recommend you start with light readings when your child is still an infant.
This helps them to gradually acquire the most basic language skills, upon which the rest of their future abilities to read, write and comprehend languages will develop.
Regular reading gently nurtures a great love for books within your child. As well as helping to further strengthen and develop the beautiful bond between child and parent.
Some Problems Faced by Children Who Don’t Start Early
Since every child takes varying amounts of time to get acquainted with the techniques of learning and reading, the rate of literacy development will be different for everyone.
This is something that you cannot and should not force on them. However, it’s important to gently encourage them, and create a positive outlook towards reading, because the benefits of early reading will last a lifetime.
A few problems faced by children who don’t develop an early reading habit include:
- A lack of confidence if they lag behind other kids during class lessons and group activities.
- A fearful attitude towards learning, in general, that could lead to symptoms of social anxiety.
- Low self-esteem or negative approach to institutional education.
Unfortunately, these issues can escalate and leave lasting impressions on a child. Developing into serious problems in future.
This is why we always recommend encouraging a healthy and enjoyable attitude towards reading right from the beginning.
We have charted out some basic tips and tricks for specific age groups that should help you understand how to approach your little ones regarding reading and learning. We’ve also created an article on the the different reading milestones by age if you’re interested in learning more.
Infants (Year 0 – 1)
At this age, light reading to your baby goes a long way.
Choose lullabies, nursery rhymes, and books with different textures and large vibrantly colored pictures. Your baby will enjoy touching and feeling them. And will learn to associate pictures, sensations, colors and shapes with sounds and pronunciations.
Eventually your baby will understand that gestures and sounds communicate meaning, and will respond when spoken to. They will also react to stories by patting on the pictures and making sounds. Try directing their attention to a person or object and gently articulate your answers.
It’s common for babies to know approximately 60 words towards the end of infancy.
Toddlers (Year 1 – 3)
At this age, kids usually begin to answer questions and identify objects in books.
When reading to your child, it’s good to ask questions regarding the story.
Questions such as “Which one is the dog?” or “What color is the bird”
Asking questions stimulates your child’s thought processes, and is a good way to see if they’re developing.
However, avoid asking questions too frequently. Stories should be relaxing, not an interrogation.
Remember, the aim is for your child to comprehend the meaning when they get older, not just for getting a “sound” of them.
Help them in naming familiar pictures in books they know well.
Early Preschool (Year 3)
Around this age, kids will usually begin to look at books on their own, scribble frequently and understand that writing is different from drawing a picture.
They might make symbols that resemble writing or imitate an action of reading a book aloud.
They will listen longer to books that are being read aloud and recognize the first letter in their name.
Encourage them to retell their favorite stories, and have fun signing the alphabet song together.
Late Preschool (Year 4)
Children will now be more familiar with common signs and labels in their environment. They will also know most of the alphabet.
Encourage them to match some letters to their sounds and use familiar ones to try writing words, or even their name.
Year 5 (Kindergarten)
At this age, children are usually able to produce words that rhyme, match certain spoken and written words, and write a few letters, numbers and words.
It’s good to encourage them to predict what will happen next in a story before turning the page. This will engage their imagination and develop a greater interest for information and storytelling
A few essential dos and don’ts for parents
- Always remember patience is key when it comes to your child’s learning process.
- Never force your child to read. Give them time to develop an interest.
- Make time for a reading session every day. Read them their favorite bedtime stories and leave books in their room.
- Instead of drilling your child with numbers, shapes and letters, try making a fun game out of them and encourage your child’s interest and curiosity.
- Point out figures and words to your child and read aloud to them making funny voices and animal noises. Invite them to join in while repeating a similar word or phrase.
- Quickly solve or answer a question. A delay can take your child’s concentration off the book.
- Keep reading to your child even when he or she has learned to read. Establish a healthy study habit this way.
We should always try to establish a bond of love and understanding with our children to make their learning experience a beautiful one. One where they can fearlessly experiment and grow.
For further guidance, you can check out Children Learning Reading. Replacing the traditional methods of teaching, this eBook adopts newer, scientific and innovative techniques to make lessons even more exciting and accessible for your child.
Your child’s first introduction to letters signifies a happy beginning and not a frustrating ordeal.
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