As a community group, throughout all cultures in the world, telling stories is pretty much embedded in our human DNA. Traditionally storytelling was a way for us to explain things that we did not really understand, hence the old tales of how the world began within the Mythologies of Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, and The Dreaming. Additionally when most of us think back to our childhoods one of the most precious memories is or parents reading to us, and us reading to them. My own mother was one of those volunteer mums who came into the class room twice a week to help children with their reading; to me that time with my mum is one of the most precious memories I have.
As well as being a wonderful bonding experience between parent/guardian and child, reading is an integral part of the learning process, it assists with communication, understanding and cognitive development. For better success later in life, cognitive skill developments are extremely important. Reaching skills at one particular stage in life increases skill levels later in life. It greatly increases the likelihood of gaining higher education and advanced training, it increases the chances of better paying and better quality jobs in adult life. Fortunately, cognitive skills aren’t fixed, they can be influenced by time invested in learning at home and in schooling; the most significant influence in this is parental investment. Kids who read more frequently at an early age start school with larger vocabularies, and more advanced comprehension skills. Reading storybooks to and with children is one of the most important activities parents/guardians can do with their children to advance their child’s development and success. It has been found to be related to language growth, and emerging literacy. Reading to children also stimulates them and encourages them to learn to read books themselves, which further develops additional cognitive skills.
Studies have shown that the frequency of reading to young children directly effects the outcome of their learning regardless of their family background and home environment. In fact, reading to/with a child aged 4 to 5 years every day has a hugely positive effect, in later life, on their reading, language, literacy, numeracy, and cognitive skills. In children aged from four to five years, reading with them three to five times a week can advance development by up to six months ahead of “regular” milestones, and reading with them six to seven days a week can advance them by up to twelve months. For NAPLAN, children need to read more frequently between these ages to higher results in the tests when they reach year 3 at school. Just to reiterate, these differences in reading and cognitive development are directly a result of how frequently they have been read to prior to starting school, and not reflective of the child’s family background, culture, or home environment.
So when there’s some “spare time” (I know, it is never really spare when you’re a parent), pick up a book, sit with your little one, and share story time. You’ll be thankful that you did – for now, and for their future.
At Angel’s Paradise Early Education Centre, we provide various opportunities for children to use their reading as a development tool for their cognitive skills.