What is early childhood literacy? Contrary to what we understand, early literacy is beyond teaching children how to read. It is instead, equipping young learners with the skills to nurture a love for reading and eventually become proficient readers. Prior to learning how to read through word recognition and fluency, children should first develop fundamental skills that include critical listening, observing, speaking, self-expressing and comprehending. These skills will be essential in assisting children to make sense of words when they start to read.
The Importance of Literacy in Early Childhood
Nurturing a love for literacy in their early years is a crucial part of your child’s overall development and sets the foundation for lifelong learning. Children who enter school with literacy skills find it easier to read and concentrate during lessons. They tend to understand and communicate ideas better. Moreover, research has shown reading to young children, from as early as infancy, can boost reading and vocabulary skills up to four years later. This suggests that exposing children to reading from a very young age can have a lasting effect on their language and literacy development.
Despite the importance of literacy in early childhood, literacy rates in children have declined since the pandemic began, as reported in a study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). This is attributed to school closures resulting in learning and academic disruptions. Another study also found that rates of parents reading to their children has declined. This could be due to pandemic stress that parents may be experiencing.
How Can You Inspire a Love for Reading In Your Child?
Parents play an integral role in nurturing a child’s early literacy skills, it is never too early to start. Reading regularly with your child can be challenging, especially amidst the adversities of the pandemic. We’d love to share some tips that can enhance reading sessions with your child:
- Make reading a part of your child’s daily routine. Set aside time to read daily. With a routine in place, you can ensure that your child fulfils an adequate amount of reading each day despite busy routines.
- Let your child lead. Most toddlers can hold a book independently and point at pictures by the age of two. Let them take control and flip the pages of the book. Respond accordingly to their gestures and reactions throughout the session.
- Read with emotions. Varying the tone and pitch of your voice throughout the story not only makes the session more engaging and interactive, but it also helps them remember the words more efficiently.
- Create an interactive reading experience. As you read to your child, ask open-ended questions like “What was your favourite part of the story and why?” and “What do you think will happen next?” This helps your child build critical thinking and communication skills.
- Leave books around the house. Making books easily accessible in your home will encourage your child to read even when it’s not reading time.
The MindChamps Reading™ (Natural Literacy™) module in the MindChamps Early Learning & Preschool curriculum focuses on nurturing a love for reading in your child through a selection of fun and interactive activities. Book a visit at our centre to find out more!