When will my child be ready to take the first steps in learning to read? This is a common question many parents and carers ask when it comes to their little one beginning their reading journey. At Kids Play Childcare, we encourage a love for books from the young age of babies, all the way through to when the children leave us at the end of pre-school.
So, the answer to this question? Children begin their reading journey from their first book encounter, so there is no set time frame on learning to read as it gradually develops over time with exposure and support.
This article aims to identify ways that you can recognise signs that your little one is actively on their reading journey, and how you can support a love for books from a young age at home, by encouraging a healthy relationship and passion for reading.
A child’s reading journey
A child’s reading journey describes the journey of a child’s development from showing an interest in books to becoming a reader themselves. Reading should be introduced from as young as possible, in order to get your baby familiar with books, allowing them to grow and transition into understanding the sounds and words that make up a story. A love for books from an early age will provide children with the interest and attention towards reading, allowing them to start their own reading journey once they are socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively developed.
The importance of reading in children
Reading with your child encourages a confident and positive relationship with reading from an early age. Early exposure to reading when a child is ready is highly correlated with the ability to read well in the future. To create a natural love for reading, children need to form positive feelings associated with books and the stories within them, as this encourages them to want to read and develop their reading skills. This can be developed over time, from babies simply listening to stories and looking at picture books, to toddlers and pre-schoolers beginning to recognise sounds and letters.
Reading assists in refining a child’s fine motor skills, and also helps to distinguish between letters, shapes and sounds. Throughout a child’s reading journey, they can begin to understand the world, and learn about life lessons from books that might relate to them. Books develop children’s imaginations and provide a rich vocabulary to develop their language.
Encourage motivation and interest
By creating a happy, healthy relationship reading from an early age, children ultimately look forward to story time. Children may demonstrate this be through asking you to read the same story multiple times, or by feeling confident enough to ask questions about stories or text in their surrounding environment. A motivation highlights that your child is intrigued by reading and wants to learn more, so by repeating stories and answering their questions you will be supporting their development!
As part of their reading journey, children will show a genuine interest in both words and letters. This could be demonstrated through pointing to words and letters, recognising and reciting the alphabet song, and wanting to get involved with the book during Storytime. Identifying letters is an extremely encouraging sign of your child’s developed ability due to it showing a recognition and understanding – this could be as simple as noticing letter magnets on the fridge! Be sure to encourage the recognition of letters by asking your little one simple questions such as repeating letters back to you, saying what a certain letter sounds like, or pointing out specific characters at story time.
Encourage print and phonological awareness
If a child is demonstrating print awareness, they are showing that they understand what words look like and that they have meaning. By demonstrating they are able to hold a book correctly and turn the pages, your little one is indicating that they have so far built a positive association with reading. You can support this at home by asking your child if they want to read you a story or vice versa, and by encouraging them to play with books.
Basic skills learnt in nursery rhymes, songs and stories build the basis of phonological awareness in children’s early years education. Sound structures such as simple rhyming, repetition, and clap syllables allow children to identify and manipulate sounds from a young age. If your child is showing basic understanding of this, they have effectively shown they understand word structure and how sounds are translated onto a page. Practice nursery rhymes and songs with your little one to help with their development of understanding, allowing them to become more familiar with the patterns and sounds that make up a word.
As a parent/carer, supporting a love for books is at home is important to ensure your little one is reaching their full learning potential by being exposed to a happy learning environment. As a skill that develops from babies, encouraging a love for reading and storytelling will benefit your child in the long-term, giving them maximum learning opportunity when working closely with their nursery.Back to Articles