A child who reads becomes an adult who thinks!
Virtues of reading are no more an unexplored territory. Benefits of reading to a child as early as in the mother’s womb have been well established. Science has shown that reading to the baby in the womb promotes brain activity and can promote early literacy skills and language development. It also helps in the developing early bond with the reader. Early reading habit in childhood goes a long way, it helps in stimulating imagination, developing social skills, act as gateway to the world and different cultures and ability to relate with them. Even when the child’s vocabulary is not developed, their senses are developing fast and their brain acts like a sponge, soaking in the environment around them. That is why surrounding the children with books at an early age at home as well as in school is imperative for their overall development. Ever before the children are ready to read on their own, encourage children to turn pages, trace words, and talk about books and stories. It helps in the development of their fine motor skills and develop connections in their fast growing brains. So, how to inculcate the habit of reading during early childhood and how does it help in the development:
“Reading is to mind what exercise is to the body.”
In almost all Pre School curricula, extensive focus has been given to the development of the fine motor skills. The curriculum is designed to include the physical activities that enhance hand eye coordination, ear-eye coordination, ear hand coordination etc. Similarly giving exposure to the children about listening to the stories, set-ups, characters, cultures, exploring books with images they can relate to, even the books where the characters/things make sound, has to be intertwined with the day to day routine. These can be taken up during circle time, recreational time, while working independently etc. It helps children to make real world connections, develop inquisitiveness, differentiate between real and made-up, with the help of books.
Reading can help children build developmental skills of emotional intelligence and empathy. It helps children develop their perspective at an early age and also to be able to see perspectives and human experience other than their own, inculcating open mindedness. It helps children to recognize the emotions, name their feelings and only then they can be guided towards managing them. Reading and relating to different environment and experiences, helps children to use, understand and manage their own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively and empathize with others. Exposing them to the stories and books with varied perspectives and experiences help children gain a sense of belonging to a world beyond their immediate experiences.
Reading helps children become Confident and Independent
As children develop their reading skills, they begin to encompass taking the risk of trying to read and speak words new to their vocabulary. This gives them confidence as they tackle unknown words on their own. Once they develop the love for reading the unexplored text, they become independent readers with strong vocabulary and critical thinking skills.
‘Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.’
Home and school camaraderie can offer the best in nurturing young minds being partners in the journey. Along with the exposure and well planned activities around reading in school, if the habit is also nurtured at home, the results are astonishing. Early exposure and meaningful habits at the right age goes a long way in carving the adult that we become. So when it comes to inculcating reading habit at an early age, it completely resonates with, ‘Sow a habit, and reap a character’.