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The value of reading to your child

Reading to a child is one of the best things you can do for their early development. Studies have shown that reading aloud to children from a young age can boost their language and literacy skills, enhance their emotional intelligence, and even improve their academic performance later in life.

In South Africa, there is a great need for children to be exposed to books and reading. Unfortunately, access to books can be limited, and many households do not have a culture of reading. However, research has shown that reading to children in their home language can significantly improve their vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Reading with your child is not only important for their academic success, but it is also a great way to bond and create lasting memories to cherish. By sharing a story together, you can encourage your child’s imagination, creativity, and curiosity, and expose them to new ideas, cultures, and experiences of the world around them.  

In addition to academic benefits, reading also has the potential to promote social and emotional development in children. Reading can help children develop empathy, compassion, and a sense of community, which is especially important in a country with a complex history and ongoing social challenges.  

As a parent, it’s important to make reading a part of your daily routine. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference in your child’s development. You can start by setting aside a specific time for reading, such as when they come home from school or before bed, and making it a fun and enjoyable experience for both you and your child.  Reading time has a calming effect on a child after vigorous activity.  Children of all ages look forward to that special time spent reading with their parents.

It is also important to provide your child with access to books and to encourage them to read independently. This can be challenging, but there are many resources available, such as local libraries and literacy programs.  The child enjoys reading with an adult by taking turns reading a passage once they are able to recognise the text.

Parents are encouraged to ask inferring questions during reading to encourage the child’s deeper understanding of the story. Young children never tire of their favourite stories, they enjoy having the same book read over again.  If you change the words they will soon pick this up.

In this time of technology, it is still vitally important for children to read physical books.  Although it has its place in learning, a device should not rule out the value of reading books.

By promoting a culture of reading in our homes and communities, we can help our children reach their full potential and develop the skills they need for success in life. The more they are exposed to the written word the more their imaginative world will open up.  A child who reads will be an adult who thinks.

Written by Mrs Tracy Wahl (Primary School Principal). This article first appeared in The Muse magazine. Click here to view it. Click here to read more about Cannons Creek Primary School.