The Importance of Reading to Children Outside School
Reading is an essential skill. As children progress through school, they’ll go from recognising basic phonic sounds to reading whole books fluently. But although reading at school is important, it’s the reading that’s done for fun outside of school hours, that can really make a difference to their development.
Motivating them to read
Homework is a chore. If children only ever read when they have to, they may not recognise the benefits it can bring. By making reading a part of everyday life from an early age, they’ll see the fun side of reading and want to do it themselves, whether they’re researching their latest hobby, reading an online forum or getting lost in a fictional world.
Bonding at bedtime
The benefits of a bedtime story are well documented. From an early age, babies and children enjoy the closeness of story time, and the one-to-one bonding experience it brings can pave the way for a lifelong love of reading. Bedtime stories can also develop memory, motor skills, concentration and empathy as children learn to think about different characters’ points of view.
As children get older and start to read for themselves, don’t underestimate the value of the time spent reading together. It can be helpful to talk to your child about the stories they read, asking them open-ended questions that allow you to explore the issues together.
Developing their brains
Throughout our lives, our brains need exercise and stimulation to work well. Reading at home, with parents or independently, is a fantastic way to stretch our brains, helping develop comprehension skills and vocabulary. This has lifelong benefits both in school life and as a general life skill, boosting critical thinking and helping to develop the imagination.
Opening their minds
Even in this multimedia age, reading can open the door to a whole new world. By developing a love of reading, children will have access to other realities and learn about other cultures, countries, ideas and beliefs.
Supporting emotional intelligence
Books are a great way for children to explore their feelings and those of others. They’re a safe space where difficult topics can be rehearsed. By reading books in their leisure time, children can learn more about their emotions and better understand how other people may feel. If something significant happens in a child’s life, whether that’s the arrival of a new sibling or the death of a grandparent, books can help them to make sense of things.
Unlike watching TV, where the blanks are filled in and we don’t have to use our imagination, reading books is a great way to boost children’s creativity. With just the words of the story, their imaginations are given free reign.
Improving academic results
Children who enjoy reading outside of school are more likely to perform well academically, all across the board. They’ll develop transferable language skills, which will help them when learning another language. They’re also better able to focus because they’re used to applying themselves and concentrating on their reading.