Parents to small children are familiar with these magical moments of reading a bedtime story. These moments are precious “together” time, when both parent and child sail together into strange new lands, peek into lives of people different yet similar to us, and applaud heroic acts.
But reading to your children is far more than just having fun together (very important, don’t get me wrong). Reading to your children also makes your kids smarter, giving them a leverage that will last many years.
Reading to your children, improves their cognitive skills and helps them develop sound reading habits. These habits, in turn, will contribute to developing their cognitive skills further for years to come.
Reading and cognitive skills
Two studies, one performed at the University of Education, Melbourne Australia, and another, conducted at London University’s Institute of Education, confirm these facts:
- Reading to children at age 4-5 every day has a significant positive effect on their reading skills and cognitive skills (i.e., language and literacy, numeracy and cognition) later in life.
- Reading to children every day has the same effect as being almost 12 months older.
- This is where reading habits kick in – Children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.
Reading is more important than family background
More than that, reading is the great equalizer, more rewarding than a parent’s degree, family background or home environment. The above studies also found that:
- Reading to children improves their cognitive skills in ways that are not related to the child’s family background or home environment but are the direct result of how frequently they have been read to prior to starting school.
- And again, reading habits provide long-term advantage – Reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education. The combined effect on children’s reading at the age of 16 was 4 times greater than the advantage provided by having a parent with a degree.
The advantages of reading are very evident in large scale
How significant is reading to your children? Very. The differences between children who are read to at a young age and those that are not, can be seen clearly even in large scale:
Another research performed by Feitelson and Goldstein, at Cambridge University, found that in neighborhoods where children tended to do well in school, 96% of the children were read to daily. In contrast, they found that in neighborhoods where children tended to do poorly in school, 61% of the children were not read to at all.
Need I say more?
Just grab a book and invest in your kids’ future –read them a bedtime story 🙂
Photo credit: YRLewis
Reading to children, Feitelson and Goldstein
Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, study finds, IOE (Institution of Education, University of London)
Reading to Young Children: A Head-Start in Life, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, The University of Melbourne