CHILDREN who start reading at an early age are most likely to succeed academically, says parenting expert Sister Yolanda Mpilo.
CHILDREN who start reading at an early age are most likely to succeed academically, says parenting expert Sister Yolanda Mpilo.

How to get your child into reading before they even start at school

By IOL Reporter Time of article published May 12, 2021

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INTRODUCING a child into the world of books and literature can be a challenging experience for any parent especially if that child is not yet at school where teachers may assist.

So to commemorate days such as Children’s Book Day and World Reading Day, Pampers parenting expert Sister Yolanda Mpilo has some tools on how parents can get their children to love reading way before they start school.

According to Mpilo there are great benefits that come with starting children on reading at an early age.

“There isn’t a proper age to start teaching your children how to read. From birth, babies are developing new skills, including comprehension. However, around 3 years old, parents can start introducing the concept of reading, starting with something as simple as learning to say their name,” she said.

Mpilo says children who are exposed to reading at an early age are much likelier to succeed academically, as they have the foundation of strong vocabulary skills.

“Reading is also brain-stimulating. The amount of time they spend concentrating on a book teaches them how to focus on things for a longer span, it helps increase their tolerance in paying attention”, she says.

Context

Understanding the context of what they are reading can be complex for children starting to learn. Parents could start with teaching them their names, as it is easy and familiar. This will help get them used to how letters look, the sound, and feel. By calling out the letters individually, they slowly understand that when letters are put together, they make up their name.

Blending

After understanding how each letter sounds, and then a complete word, parents can move on to teaching them how to blend words to form a sentence. This will slowly help them make sense of what they read.

Building Vocabulary

Building a vocab means you will have to introduce your child to more words that they are not familiar with. Simple texts and captions have proven helpful in this phase, encouraging them to read more of these.

Writing

This is also vital to a child’s reading process. You need to encourage them to write those sounds of letters mentioned above, this is called “encoding” and works alongside the reading process.

Play I-Spy

There is a term called “environmental print”, which refers to the print that appears in signs, labels, and logos. An example would be street signs and the M in McDonald’s seen at their restaurants. Play a game of I-spy whenever you’re out with your child, this technique helps build a connection between letters and reading.

Make reading a family affair

Children like to take cues from their parents' behaviour, often attempting to mimic their actions. Parents can take advantage of this, by picking up reading material, while encouraging their child to do the same. This is a positive reinforcement of the act of reading. Reading together also builds a special bonding time between parents and their kids.

Parents should also take time to ask questions while reading a book with their children. It’s not only a great way to encourage them to interact with the book, but it also positively affects their comprehension skills. This will be a great skill to have developed by the time they start school.

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