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Benefits of reading with your children

Should parents continue to read to children once they can read to themselves?

 

As parents, we all lead such incredibly busy lives that it is understandable to prioritise listening to your child read their home reader but forsake the good old bedtime story that they enjoyed during their earlier years.

 

However, more and more I have come across intervention specialist reports that recommend positive shared reading experiences and modelled reading within both home and school contexts.

 

This is crucial for children requiring additional learning support, but the benefits extend to all children and certainly do not stop when children learn to read themselves. Sadly, a recent Australian study found that nearly three-fifths of Year 4 students reported that they were not being read to at home.

 

Why is it so important for us to keep reading with our children for as long as possible?

 

Benefits of shared reading include fostering the development of listening skills, spelling, reading comprehension, vocabulary and positive attitudes towards reading. When we read aloud to children it activates areas of their brain related to narrative comprehension and mental imagery that is beneficial for their cognitive development. 

 

One particular study I came across concluded that ‘there is an important role for parents in the development and educational performance of their children. Parental reading to children increases the childs reading and other cognitive skills at least up to the age of 10–11 years old. This is an early-life intervention that seems to be beneficial for the rest of their lives.’

 

We should not stop reading with our children just because they have learned to read independently. We should continue reading with our children until they no longer wish to share reading with us. Ensuring that these experiences are enjoyable (free from distractions and criticism), as they can influence children’s future attitudes towards reading, as well as building their confidence and competence as readers. It is certainly worth the effort to find time to share this experience with our children in the early years and beyond.

 

Catherine Ratcliff

Education Support Teacher

 

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