The time when a child learns how to read is one of the biggest milestones in his/her learning phase. Many parents wonder when is the best time to teach a child how to read, and the answer to this is very simple: the process starts from birth itself. Talking to babies, reciting verses, and singing to them initiates the process of language development and learning to read.
The key to teach a child how to read is to expose the infant to good vocabulary from the time of birth. The process of learning for a child begins with the eyes, but the first step toward learning begins with reading or conversation, a procedure that involves the sense of hearing as well. The foundation for reading is laid by parents who read aloud to their children and play rhyming games with them.
Reading out loud to a child increases his/her vocabulary and also instills a love for reading in the toddler from a young age itself. A highly evolved vocabulary means that the child knows a lot of words and recognizes them while reading. Moreover, it arouses the child’s curiosity as to how the same words are used elsewhere and in other contexts. This leads to the child trying to read more books in an effort to satisfy his/her curiosity.
Reading aloud also increases the child’s knowledge of the world around him/her. Children are extremely curious by nature. Their inborn curiosity leads them to try and discover more about the world they live in. To teach a child how to read, it is important to encourage his/her curious nature. As kids ask more and more questions about daily life, parents are not always able to answer all their questions satisfactorily. During such times, children look for answers in books or try to take their search elsewhere.
A recent 5 year long research conducted at the Department of Psychology of Carleton University in Ottawa among 168 middle class and upper middle class children studied the connections between their literary experiences at home and the consequent language reception and affinity toward literary talents, including reading. The results showed that children who were exposed to books early on had a well-developed vocabulary and better listening and comprehension skills in the third grade.
The parents’ involvement in helping their children read and write was helpful in developing reading abilities in the young ones much earlier. Word reading was initiated as early as the first grade, while in the third grade, these few children were already able to comprehend a lot. The difference lay in the approach to teaching and parental involvement.
With proper parental guidance in reading out loud and learning to read, the entire reading process ideally begins at the very young age, i.e. between infancy to four years of age. By the time children are just a few years old, they can learn to recognize sounds and memorize certain easy words. Simple sentences are grasped in the first grade. By the time the child reaches the second grade, s/he can read textbook chapters and understand them.
There are some really helpful learning to read programs created just for children broken in steps that will guide you and your children through the whole process. One of the best of such programs is the popular Children Learning Reading program. It has a lot of great reviews from parents and is proven to work as you can read from this detailed Children Learning Reading review.
In brief, it can be said that fluent reading has its roots in how early the child is read to and how well his/her early experiences are nurtured. No wonder then that repeated reading to children helps teach a child how to read and also provides a lifelong means of enjoyment through reading books.