Help your child to read

By Drum Digital
11 August 2011

A young Soweto mother recently asked a reading expert when she should start reading to her seven-month-old baby.

“You should have started seven months ago,” he replied.

Surprised by his response, she was also delighted – as an avid reader she was more than happy to introduce her baby to the world of books.

Parents in SA are realising they play a big role not only in encouraging their children to read but also fostering a love of reading in their youngsters.

The best way to do this is to start reading to your child as soon as possible.

“It’s never too early to develop a child’s love for reading,” says Professor Thomas van der Walt of Unisa’s Children’s Literature Research Unit.

“Storytime is something all children enjoy: being close to their parents and listening to their voices. The child associates reading with something that’s fun, something they enjoy.

“With a young child it doesn’t matter whether he or she even understands what you read to them – it’s just important that they really enjoy the time you spend reading together,” says Thomas.

Winnie Mayindi-Motaung, an educational psychologist from Sprints, agrees.

“The foundation for a life of reading should be laid at home,” she says. “Parents play an important role in encouraging a child to read and explaining stories to them.”

Winnie says the simplest way to teach a child to read is to set an example and read yourself, whether it’s the newspaper, a magazine or books.

“You should also try to read to your child every day and always make it a fun and exciting time for your little one.”

Reading to your children not only improves their language skills and vocabulary but also promotes a life-long love for reading and learning. As reading requires children to use their imagination, it develops powers of concentration and supports general knowledge.

Get the DRUM of 14 July 2011 for advice from the experts on how to ensure your child doesn’t miss out on the many benefits of reading.

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