With the MS Readathon taking place, NAPLAN being undertaken by students and the Sydney Writers’ Festival coming up, May is a great month to renew your focus on literacy and its incredible value to children’s development.
Did you know that reading to children from birth is recommended? The sounds of words and the rhythm of speech we use in storytelling can help babies to learn about language and sounds. Not to mention the soothing nature of our voices for babies.
From birth we are programmed to copy and mimic to learn, so as well as copying sounds of a diverse range of words and associating them with images in books, children can also recognise and copy holding books. The very beginning of a love of books and reading for many!
The benefits of literacy from an early age
According to research report by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, reading to children from a young age gives them a notable headstart in life. The research demonstrated that there was a direct causal effect between schooling outcomes and how often children are read to from a young age. Importantly, the report also highlighted that the differences are not related to the child’s family background or home environment.
The research identified powerful findings that support the importance of reading for young children, including:
- Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a significant positive effect on their reading and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
- Reading to children 3-5 days per week (compared to 2 or less) has the same effect on the child’s reading skills at age 4-5 as being six months older.
- Reading to them 6-7 days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older.
- Children who are read to more frequently at age 4-5 achieve higher scores on the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests for both Reading and Numeracy in Year 3 (age 8 to 9).
In addition, reading stories can introduce new experiences, characters, cultures and situations to children, opening their minds to the world. Improved communication, vocabulary and general literacy skills are a result of reading too.
Music also provides cognitive benefits that support children’s early development and improves literacy.
By listening to and singing nursery rhymes, children identify sound patterns and learn through repetition. In addition, music also helps children anticipate what is coming next in a poem or a song. They start recognising rhyming words and learn how to put patterns in a sequence.
Incorporating different activities that focus on words and literacy, will boost children’s vocabulary and reading skills. These might include,, but are not limited to, matching cards, tracing letters, labeling objects and drawings.
To access free educational resources and practical activities that support literacy, join ‘Music Kinder at Home’ Private FB Group here.
Reading with children is a powerful way to build and strengthen relationships, so make sure reading is a part of each and every day in your service. Don’t forget to also encourage families to read with children at home too.