Reading from three? Here's why early learning could be a good idea

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"It's important to remember that children have different temperaments; parents should exercise patience when teaching them to read. If a method or technique doesn't work for a child, be flexible and explore alternative solutions". (Getty Images)
"It's important to remember that children have different temperaments; parents should exercise patience when teaching them to read. If a method or technique doesn't work for a child, be flexible and explore alternative solutions". (Getty Images)

Knowledge is a gift that parents can give their children from an early age, and one of the most important ways of handing down this gift is through the power of reading.

Parenting Expert Sister Yolanda Mpilo advises on how parents can get their children to love reading way before they start school. 

According to Sister Yolanda, there are great benefits that come with starting children on reading at an early age.

"There isn't a proper age to start teaching your children how to read. From birth, babies are developing new skills, including comprehension. However, around three years old, parents can start introducing the concept of reading, starting with something as simple as learning to say their name."

Teaching a child to read from an early age equips them for when they start their school adventure. Reading stimulates early language development.

Must see: Browse free local children's stories in all official languages

Children are much likelier to succeed academically, as they already have the foundation of solid vocabulary skills. 

"Reading is also brain-stimulating. The amount of time they spend concentrating on a book teaches them how to focus on things for a longer span, and it helps increase their tolerance in paying attention", she says. 

Embedded in books are life's greatest secrets, and the key to unlocking them has always been reading. By reading, children are exposed to various things about the world we live in - language, numbers, and many other things.

Teaching them to read earlier in life means you are allowing them to learn more about the world. They gain a deeper understanding of their world. 

A challenge parents may face is how they get their children started reading without making them feel uncomfortable or self-conscious, Sister Mpilo says. 

Learning to read is one of the most challenging skills a child will learn, so parents must be a little bit more patient and creative in this process. 

Also see: 'Children are lacking vital foundations': Local survey reveals concerning data

Context

Understanding the context of what they are reading can be complex for children starting to learn.

Parents could start with teaching them their names, as it is easy and familiar. This will help get them used to how letters look, the sound, and feel.

By calling out the letters individually, they slowly understand that they make up their name when letters are put together. 

Blending

After understanding how each letter sounds and then a complete word, parents can move on to teaching them how to blend words to form a sentence.

This will slowly help them make sense of what they read. 

Building Vocabulary

Building a vocab means you will have to introduce your child to more words with which they are not familiar. Simple texts and captions have proven helpful in this phase.

Please encourage them to read more of these. 

Also read: ‘Stories know the way’: We unpack the power and magic of story medicine with Susan Perrow

Writing

This is also vital to a child's reading process. It would help if you encouraged them to write those sounds of letters mentioned above.

This is called 'encoding' and works alongside the reading process. 

Play I-Spy

There is a term called "environmental print", which refers to the print that appears in signs, labels, and logos. An example would be street signs. Play a game of I-spy whenever you're out with your child.

This technique helps build a connection between letters and reading. 

Make reading a family affair

Children like to take cues from their parents' behaviour, often attempting to mimic their actions. Parents can take advantage of this by picking up reading material while encouraging their child to do the same. This is a positive re-enforcement of the act of reading.

Reading together also builds a special bonding time between parents and their kids. 

Parents should also take time to ask questions while reading a book with their children. It's not only a great way to encourage them to interact with the book, but it also positively affects their comprehension skills.

This will be a great skill to have developed by the time they start school.

"It's important to remember that children have different temperaments; parents should exercise patience when teaching them to read. If a method or technique doesn't work for a child, be flexible and explore alternative solutions.

The idea is to make it fun and engaging for them", concludes Sister Yolanda.

Submitted to Parent24 by Pampers. 

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