Five-year-olds, now more than ever, are being asked to read to their parents. A recent report from NPR reported an increased expectation of independent reading of 31% between current kindergarten teachers and those surveyed in 1998. Does this push out the importance of parents reading aloud?
Is the encouragement of early independent reading consistent with a young child’s development, or is it pushing things along too quickly?
It is too early to tell if this is the correct trend. Healthcare providers and educators do agree that early literacy skills increase a child’s success. Reach Out and Read, an organization supporting early literacy, provides the following insights in an article entitled, “Importance of Reading Aloud.” It states:
- Reading aloud is widely recognized as the single most important activity leading to language development. Among other things, reading aloud builds word-sound awareness in children, a potent predictor of reading success.
- Reading aloud to young children is not only one of the best activities to stimulate language and cognitive skills; it also builds motivation, curiosity, and memory. Bardige, B. Talk to Me, Baby!(2009), Paul H Brookes Pub Co.
- Read the full article.
Earlier independent reading may be the most effective way to engage the vibrant and searching minds of young children. However, if this trend produces too much stress for both parents and children, then more attention should be paid to how and when reading begins.
A busy parent needs to ask, “Is nightly frustration with phonics replacing family read-aloud time?”
The Challenges and Importance of Parents Reading Aloud
Nicole Kenon, co-owner of Home School Station, a home school curriculum/ bookstore in Fairview, NC, shares her thoughts on the challenges and importance parents reading aloud:
Once you’ve chosen a story that you think will work for your family, set aside a time each day to cuddle up together and get lost in the story. This means turning off the phone, the television, the iPod, and the computer. This means making reading time special. Then, read only as long as your children seem interested.
It takes practice to become a good reader. It also takes practice for your children to learn to listen and imagine the story.
Go slowly, but be persistent. Read everyday.
If the book you choose doesn’t seem to be captivating your audience, toss it and pick another. Before you know it, you will hit upon one that will have them mesmerized.
Once you find the right book, you will have gifted your children with the knowledge that all the things they feel, worry about, and wonder about have been felt, worried, and wondered before.
The trend of earlier independent reading will likely continue, but the importance of parents reading aloud needs to remain in busy homes.