When to introducing reading to kids as a habbit is quite debatable topic. We have seen most kids learning things more quickly than we did during childhood, just because they have lots of exposure and avenues to explore. They are expected to learn colors quickly around the age of 2 – 2.5 years. You will be surprised to know that many kids understand basic differences between primary colors and secondary colors around 3 years of age which is quite remarkable.
As parents we have a tendency to push our kids to learn more. Reading is one of those milestone which we are all excited about but when is a good time to introduce reading and how patient should we be is another story.
How parents manage?
Many parents read books to their kids thinking it will act as motivational factor for kids to learn and become more enthusiastic. We see lot of kindergarten children having their own personal libraries with tons of phonic supported books and apps.
While scrolling on a few thoughts by reading experts, I noticed a comments from Kathy Egawa, Ph.D., associate executive director of the National Council of Teachers of English mentioning “In the old days, kids really didn’t move beyond learning the alphabet and sounding out words until age 8,” she says. Today, we start the push in kindergarten.”
Overall expectations have increased globally and for a pre-schooler, the pressure has been increasing every year. All children grow at their own pace and so pushing around in trying to achieve milestones is a frequent mistake all parents make.
It has been noticed that on an average, a comfortable age for a pre-schooler to start reading properly is 5 years but there is no clear benchmark on kids being smarter if they start reading early and vice versa. Instead, your increased expectations could actually delay your child’s growth and will act as a catalyst for putting him/her off reading.
To develop love for reading we need to understand if they have an interest even and then gently introduce. Be prepared for disappointment though and do this without any bias.
Prepare for introducing reading
Introduce story sessions – escalate their imagination
No pre-schooler is perfect and during this phase a child’s brain is growing rapidly. It is important that your child should imagine beyond what is real. Through story sessions, child is able to learn more and get excited about what could be. Increased curiosity enhances brain development and children are able to understand more about surrounding.
An example could be one of my friend’s child, Earnie who loved “save the planet” stories. She, at the age of 4, imagines herself as a saviour of women who has the ability to grow plants. This allowed her to learn more about plants and I see her curious about gardening as well.
Introducing simple puzzles at around 4 years of age allow your child to be prepared for connecting sounds later. Don’t expect your child to be perfect at making puzzles so allow them to struggle and learn .
Struggling initiates thinking and enhances ability to be resourceful. Some children might leave them in between saying “ Mommy I can’t do it”. Don’t get disheartened, this is your time to understand not to push and allow them to motivate.
May be you need to get something more colorful or just allow them to play. Not all children can have reading as hobby. Some are quite good in sports and pushing them towards reading is the worst thing you can do.
Reading involves connecting not just sounds together but be able to juggle with tons of information around. Some children cannot multi task and so they might not be ready.
Introduction of Phonics
Most children have tendency to grasp phonics but they are not able to read, only to realise that they have just learnt phonics and but really understood sounds. Reading is more than be able to know phonics.
You might not even know this but most pre-schools teach phonics with few objects for each letters and only few children are able to understand how sounds work. Most children just know sounds behind letter but doesn’t understand how to effectively use that sounds. Based on my experience with children I teach, I see pre-schoolers knowing which sounds belongs to which letter but this changes as soon as object changes.
So one has to be expert enough to feed knowledge in right way.
Patience is the key
Needless to say that parents and teachers have to be patient to be able to transfer knowledge right way to right audience. In a class you might see ten children with different abilities, some able to write and some would just be jumping around laughing. Patience is key to success with all
As parents you should be confident about your child and be able to understand right time for you to start incorporating reading. Also, be ready to commit mistakes and move on. We all learn through experience.
Also read how to enhance your child creativity