Reading is a skill and pleasure that is comprehensive in its benefits and value. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, manuals, or cereal boxes, having the ability to truly understand what has been written is a part of life that can be educational, enjoyable, and informative.
The foundations of language development are built at a very young age and the stronger they are, the more opportunities that are open to us. Reading is significant factor of language development, and we can be introduced to it even as a baby. As children reach preschool age, options abound for parents to support them as they expand their reading skills.
When it comes to learning to read, there are several steps parents can take to make the experience as advantageous and rewarding as possible for literacy and language development.
How Can Reading Children’s Books Develop Language Skills?
Some children begin school struggling with their literacy and language, and one common reason for this is they haven’t been read to and given the opportunity to read with a proficient reader. Fortunately, this is not the case for many children, meaning they can start school better prepared and ready to expand their literacy and language skills, as well as develop their imagination and creativity.
Reading to and with a child involves more than going through the motions with a picture or chapter book to really get the most out of it. When reading to your preschooler to support their language development, keep in mind that reading gives them the opportunity to link the meaning of words to the letters on the page.
Hearing you model language when reading to them helps them towards mastering the skill of encoding and decoding. Furthermore, even though children’s books are generally already short, reading even a few pages a day is beneficial if that is what time or your child’s concentration allows. The process is most advantageous if it is as enjoyable and stress free as possible (for both of you!).
What Part Of Language Development Can Reading Help With?
Reading with your child can help develop their language skills in a vast array of ways. A significant aspect involves expanding their vocabulary and developing comprehension skills.
Being able to identify, name, and define the things around them and events that are occurring can be made possible for children by reading. This can done not just with the words on the page but also by recognising and discussing pictures and drawings. Knowing a word and attaching meaning to it also gives children the tools to ask and answer questions and learn new information.
Reading involves increasing the foundations behind expanding vocabulary, such as understanding and using phonemics and phonics, and the ability to problem solve when a sentence or passage is not clear. Words such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives can be heard, read, and further understood.
Things To Do With Your Preschooler For Language Development
There are many ways that you can help your child develop these language foundations and skills. Some suggestions include:
- Point to the words as you read. This allows them to track the words and become more familiar with them and their connection with what you are saying.
- Discuss the meaning of words and pictures.
- Rather than purely reading the story, stop and ask open-ended questions so your child is encouraged to think more deeply about the words, story, and information. This involves questions that begin with ‘how, when, what, why, who, and where.’ For example, you could ask a question such as ‘what do you think you would do if you found that puppy like Clara did?’
- Use expression in your voice and maintain a steady speed as you read so that words and sentences sound as they do in everyday contexts. This also makes it fun.
- Make use of the ‘fill in the blank’ technique. Once you have read the story more than once (which is inevitable with kids!), begin to leave out words or short phrases to help children use their growing language skills and vocabulary.
- Encourage your child to create and tell their own stories to facilitate their use of words and meaning, develop the correct sentence structure, and grow their imagination and creativity.
Make reading fun and engaging and foster a love of books.
Reading With Your Child Can Be Combined With Professional Support When Required
Reading is a complex skill that takes many years to master. Being given the opportunity to start to learn this skill and advance their language development can help your child begin school with abilities that will help them exponentially during their education.
Sometimes, children do have reading difficulties, and this can require professional support. Our experienced and friendly team of speech pathologists at Chatterbox Speech Pathology can help you and your child incorporate strategies that can improve the experience. Contact us to discuss how we can help you and your child with speech therapy for kids.