The power of the written word in early education


Brain scans have revealed that reading aloud to young children on a regular basis contributes greatly to growth in the areas of the brain that provide mental pictures and reading comprehension. Although they cannot yet read, children under the age of five are building important skills they will need for their whole lives, and hearing stories at home and at school will help them to be successful in many areas of academics, from vocabulary, to comprehension. Prioritizing reading and writing in early childhood will help your child succeed when they begin school.

How, When and Why to Read

A report from 1985 stated the single greatest predictor of reading success later in life was being read to as a child. More than thirty years later, researchers have added to the skills and activities that help children to read, but this pillar of education still stands. Another, more recent study found that children that were read to at least three times per week did exponentially better when they began learning to read and spell. For many families, this three times a week rule should be relatively easy to meet, but the more reading you can do, the better.  Reading at bedtime fits easily with a calming routine, but any time your child wants to curl up and read with you is a good time too.  Allowing your child to ask questions, and asking them questions about story lines, characters or even illustrations will help improve their comprehension.

Early Writing Skills

Reading and writing are greatly intertwined.  Every writer knows that if they want to write better, they should read more. The same is true for children, as well as the fact that writing more will help them to read better.  You may notice that as your preschooler continues to age, some of their drawings and scribbles may start to look increasingly like writing, whether you can recognize certain letters, or they organize their scribbles in semi-neat lines. This is an important step before children actually begin to write, and should absolutely be encouraged. Provide them with a variety of materials they can use to write and draw, and ask questions about their pictures, or to “read” you what they wrote. As they grow older, it can be fun to match your child up with a pen pal to exchange regular letters with. This might be an existing friend, through a pen pal platform or even a willing grandparent. asserts that having a pen pal is a fun way to encourage early reading and writing skills as well as learn about the postal service by printing stamps and addressing the envelope.

Social Benefits of Reading Stories

Besides the academic benefits of reading to your children, books also offer a fun and simple way of exploring millions of new concepts and truths about life.  Although lots of books are mostly silly and fun, many of them teach a lesson, or introduce something important. For example, if your child has had trouble being gentle, a book like Hands are Not for Hitting can help your child think about all the other things they can do with their hands.  Books can also help address topics that parents may not be fully comfortable with, or questions your children have about people and the world.

Making time to read with your child on a regular basis will do so much good for the both of you.  You will be able to rest assured that you’re contributing to your child’s academic success, while enjoying some special, relationship building time with your baby.