One of the best possible tools we can give our children is a love for books, starting with early years reading. In our fast-paced, modern life, where one third of pre-school children now have their own iPad or tablet and boys in particular are increasingly reluctant to read at home, we ask: what are the main benefits of early years reading, and how can parents encourage reading at home?
The importance of reading at an early age
It’s never too early to encourage your child to listen to stories and read. The benefits of early years reading are incredible; spending time curled up with your little one and a favourite book will help your child to develop basic reading skills, build their vocabulary and strengthen language skills. There’s lots of research that shows children who read for pleasure will develop increased general knowledge, do well in reading tests and perform better at school.
Early years reading gives your child the foundations they need for a lifelong love of learning. When you read to your child, they are not just enjoying the story – they are busy learning about matching, rhyming, letter skills and direction of words. Without even realising it, they are absorbing so much knowledge simply by looking through the pages of a book. Every new sound, word or phrase they hear is a fascinating part of their learning adventure.
Reading in early years – what’s the problem?
The National Literacy Trust has found deep-seated problems with boys’ early literacy development; 76% of teachers from UK schools confirm that boys do not perform as well as girls with their reading and 3 out of 4 boys are reluctant to read at home. The gender gap is widening and it’s vital that literacy activities for pre-schoolers are designed to appeal to boys as well as girls. Choosing the right preschool reading books that spark boys’ interests needs to be a major priority.
At Toad Hall we are committed to helping all of our children – girls and boys – to love reading which is why we developed our Early Years Language Programme in partnership with Kay Hiatt. Kay is an expert in literacy and as well as writing our Early Years Language Programme, regularly trains and supports our managers and nursery staff.
Our focus on literacy really helps to develop reading skills ready for school, and our Books for Boys initiative is used successfully across all of our nurseries to get boys interested in reading.
How to encourage your child’s reading at home
- Make sure that your child sees you reading! It doesn’t need to be War and Peace – you could flip through a magazine, newspaper or novel – it will teach your child that reading is an enjoyable activity.
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to read together without too much distraction or background noise.
- Join the library and enjoy choosing books together.
- Don’t worry if your child wants to read the same book over and over again – it shows how much they are enjoying the experience.
- Talk about the story afterwards and ask questions to keep your child interested.
- Make up stories with your child’s favourite characters.
Toad Hall are passionate about sparking a lifelong love for books with our early years reading activities and we’re always on the look-out for new ideas. If you have any favourite books that we should know about, please get in touch.