Should parents wait until preschool before reading to kids?

By on July 1, 2012
Back in the old days, children of the ’50s and ’60s weren’t introduced to reading until they began primary school. As the number of mothers joining the workforce increased, so too did the preschools. Parents in Tokyo and Yokohama are now spoilt for choice when it comes to the quality of preschool education on offer.A majority of international preschools in Japan include pre-reading in their curriculum that helps advance children’s reading skills and vocabulary.  Does that mean parents should wait until preschool before starting reading to them?

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child at Harvard University conducted an interesting study on the effects of early reading in infants and toddlers who have not begun developing literacy skill.  As many as 1,100 mothers who participated were interviewed when their children were 14, 24 and 36 months old.

The mothers were asked how frequent they did storybook reading to their child.  Almost half of the mothers  read daily to their babies at 14 months with the proportion increased at each subsequent age.  According to the result of evaluation done by well-trained researchers using the standard measures of the child’s vocabulary and cognitive ability,  the toddlers by age 3 (preschooling age) whose mothers read to them more frequently had significantly higher language and cognitive scores than those whose mothers did not.  It further shows that the cognitive and vocabulary growth was attributed to early exposure to reading as children began  talking more and expressing interest in books that led to further shared reading.

Based on the research therefore, programs that aid the pre-literacy developmental stage is beneficial as toddlers acquire actual literacy skills in preschool.

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