Why Independent Reading is a Critical Skill to Master
Reading is the foundation of all formal education and when started early offers neurological, educational, psychological, social and linguistic advantages to your child. This means that a critical skill for success in school is the ability to read independently. Reading builds word knowledge and context, so once you have a dynamic vocabulary, you can communicate your thoughts and ideas to others.
"...children who have experienced reading aloud from an early age usually have greater general knowledge, become fluent readers more quickly, and display improved attention spans."
It’s Academic Dear Watson
Early academic success is linked to a child’s ability to read and absorb information, and usually leads to a love of learning that is carried through their time at school. Strong oral skills are needed for literacy development. This means that children who have experienced reading aloud from an early age usually have greater general knowledge, become fluent readers more quickly, and display improved attention spans. Early readers also recognise some words by sight, which means they will learn to read independently more rapidly. Children from homes where reading and reading strategies are modelled from an early age also display high comprehension levels and improved information retention.
The Popularity Factor
The link between reading at a young age and social acceptance may not be immediately apparent; however educational research suggests social development is linked to exposure to early reading. In fact, the finding that “the frequency of reading to children at a young age has a direct causal effect on their schooling outcomes regardless of their family background and home environment” proves the benefits of reading go beyond academic success. Children who can read independently in early primary school relate to their peers more confidently and offer creative solutions to problems in the classroom and playground. The ability to manage social interactions through language increases a child’s confidence and self-image and lessens the risk of bullying and anti-social behaviours.
It can be hard to get primary-aged children away from technological devices and into a book, but studies have shown that most children prefer to read a real book. Employ some of the following strategies to encourage your child’s development into an independent reader;
- Allow your child to choose stories or non-fiction books that stimulate and interest them. If they find a series they love, helping them collect every title can assist them to maintain an independent interest
- Schools encourage children to borrow books from the library and usually have a good stock of books in the classroom. Ask your child about the books they borrow and help them with their home reader each night
- Most children still enjoy hearing their parent read aloud. If they choose a book from the library that is beyond their vocabulary, offer to read alternating passages. This means you are there to help out with hard words and to share the story
- Ask questions about the story or information in the book your child is reading. Children enjoy sharing their knowledge and in so doing, incorporate and articulate information
- Draw your child’s attention to stories on the television, on websites and in magazines and newspapers. Encourage them to keep reading or listening to find out more detail.
"Most children still enjoy hearing their parent read aloud. If they choose a book from the library that is beyond their vocabulary, offer to read alternating passages."
Independent reading is a critical skill that can be mastered by all students in primary school. Vigorously encourage your child to enjoy reading and love books and your efforts will lay the foundation for a lifelong love of reading and learning.