Reading and writing are fundamental skills that your child needs to have if they are going to become fully operational members of society. Without the ability to do either, children will not only struggle to learn as quickly at school and beyond, they will also struggle in everyday life outside of school: think about reading street signs and warning signs, bus stop information, food labelling and when they have to fill out a form or write a letter. Pretty crucial stuff you will certainly agree.
The benefits are not in doubt but when should you start reading to your child.
The answer is: as soon as they can focus.
And not in the sense of focusing intellectually, this refers to literally focusing their eyes on objects.
Getting into Habits
One reason you should start reading to them at this early stage is that by sitting with them with a book open in front of their eyes as you read through the stories every night, they get used to the idea of sitting with a book in front of them with their eyes gazing across the shapes and colours. They will also listen to the sound of your voice and will be listening, getting closer to understanding with every word.
For fathers, early reading offers another opportunity to catch up on that bonding that mothers get through breast feeding. Sitting together calmly reading a book is not unlike the breast feeding scenario after all. The child gets used to the sound of their fathers voice all the more and he gets to feel ever more involved.
Reading a book to your child before bedtime is a great idea, even if they can’t understand the soothing nature of the story, the routine is the thing that will help them get in the mindset for going to sleep. After a while they will begin to relax as soon as the book comes out as they know what is coming next. This will in fact transfer into later life as they subconsciously relax when they start reading a book from then on; particularly helpful for otherwise restless school children.
Early Writing Skills
Now I’m not suggesting you get them to hold a pen or anything but if you read them books with folding sections, or any kind of interactive stuff that they can reach out and touch, then it will be helping their tiny minds to get in the habit of reaching out to a book or page and performing some kind of satisfying task. So when they finally get to writing or drawing, they have the action in mind.
So when your child can focus, get them a book and start reading. It will certainly be of more benefit than you might have thought previously.