In terms of discoveries that shot humanity’s progress forward, there’s something that likely did more than the discovery of fire or the invention of the wheel. Because the invention of writing and reading gave us the massive benefit of being able to record information in a way other than simply memorizing it. Of course, not everyone approved of reading over the millennia. The Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was not a fan of reading as a means of learning. He believed that doing so would weaken the memory.
And this just goes to show that even famous historical figures can be wrong. Research has shown that reading regularly can, in fact, help to boost memory. This is actually just one of a wide range of personal benefits that reading regularly will promote in a person. Some of these other benefits include mental stimulation, improved concentration, increased empathy and many others. I won’t dive any further into this list because, well, the fact that you’re able to read this implies that you’re aware of what a good thing reading is.
Instead, we’ll move on to the actual topic at hand. How do you go about encouraging children to develop their reading skills? Because, for young children, reading can seem like some form of arcane art. You look at all the letters squeezed together and somehow draw meaning from them. It can seem an incredibly intimidating challenge. Of course, there are further complications because there’s more to reading than simply understanding the literal meaning of the words. Reading comprehension also involves understanding the extra meaning that context provides as well.
In terms of practical advice, there are two different approaches to helping children develop their reading skills once they have the basics down. The first option is to give them structured reading exercises, where the goal is to do things like locate specific pieces of information in the text and figure out how one piece of information changes the context of another. This tactic never stops being useful, but it’s at its most efficient to help children reinforce their basic reading skills. The more they improve their fundamental reading skills, the easier they’ll find reading. And the easier something is to do, the more likely they are to do it.
The second tactic you can try is much more straightforward. You simply encourage them to read more. Now, this isn’t as simple as just doing that. As we’ve mentioned, reading can be quite an intimidating prospect for young children. Especially in a time with much more easily consumable media available on screens. This is why it’s important to ease them into reading and help them find the joy in it. A natural starting point is to read stories to them, which you can gently transition into them reading more and more of it independently.
Other approaches include making sure to read regularly yourself. After all, children learn more from your example than what you say. It might also be worthwhile setting up somewhere bright and comfortable for them to read in as well. Finally, even though you’re encouraging them to do so, it should feel like it’s their choice to read. If this is the case, they’ll be more invested in trying it than if they feel like it’s being forced on them. Giving them a selection of books to choose from rather than just handing them a single option can really help with this.
Ultimately, reading is an essential skill that provides a lot of personal benefits. So they might as well strive to be good at it.