The Importance of Reading to our Children

It has been wonderful to welcome our youngest learners back to school this week. Both students and the teaching staff were very excited to see the students’ smiling faces. While some interesting and positive effects of learning at home were found, it is agreed that the preferred way of teaching and learning is face-to-face in the classroom.

It was evident from the first day of our students’ return, that families have been capitalising on the time spent at home, to engage with their children’s learning. Teachers have commented that the one-on-one attention that children have received in the home, particularly with respect to reading and writing, has been a boost to their learning in some ways.

This is evidence of important research conducted by PISA, the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment that has found that being read to aloud at home as a pre-schooler prior to starting school and in the early years of school, is the single most important factor in the development of a student’s reading comprehension. This support by parents in introducing their children to reading – specifically, being read to by a parent or caregiver, can equate to one year’s advantage by the age of 15, over students who were not read to in their early years – and that this advantage is found to be true, regardless of socio-economic boundaries.

The critical importance of reading at home – in the preschool and early years of schooling – is that students begin to learn the difference between the spoken word and the written word. By way of reading with your child, you are gently introducing your child to a form of language that is different to our spoken word. When reading, we enter ‘the story world’, where we are introduced to characters, events and places that we may not have experienced personally, and we are introduced to book vocabulary. Children are introduced to complex structures – to layers of meaning and to gradually more complex story lines. This allows students to progressively take in a larger amount of information.

Reading to your child is important, but even more so is the ‘book talk’ that follows a good read. Through the book talk, book vocabulary begins to be incorporated into everyday spoken interactions, allowing children to show they understand how to use these words in the correct context. Through sharing a ‘book talk’ with an adult, a student is learning how to break the story into parts they can engage with and remember. Children are learning to recognise the typical structures of stories, and that they can predict the story line, identify key ideas, and filter less important details in the story. This is the value of reading and re- reading stories time and again. Australian Council for Educational Research

Learning these skills from an early age is so important – and of utmost importance is that we continue to read to our children even after they begin to read independently. As our children advance in age, books become more complex and children begin to read about more mature topics. Having an adult to discuss such subject matter is important in learning about our world.

​Each year here at St Thomas’, we provide the opportunity for our Prep parents to attend ‘Ready to Read’ Workshops. This has been delayed this year due to alternate education provisions. We look forward to offering these to our parents when our school life returns to a more regular routine.