So your child loves to read. That’s great—or, at least, it’s supposed to be great. If the kid didn’t want you to re-read The Lorax just one more time (which has thus far proved to be up there with I didn’t eat that candy! among your child’s many deceptions), it might be a whole lot better. But as tired as you may be of hoping your child never asks why a young boy is wandering through an industrial wasteland alone to give his quarters to a total stranger—The Lorax has an admittedly weird premise—you have to do it again.
Image Via A Diligent Heart
Children learn vocabulary through experience and context. So when you’re reading the same book over and over, what you’re really doing (besides giving yourself a headache) is providing that valuable context. Common sense would imply that associating a word with an object is the best way to understand what it means. If you point at a dog and say dog, isn’t the meaning apparent? Actually, no. The fact is, dogs can have many different attributes—brown, short, fluffy, occasionally very smelly. It’s the same with any object: if you show your child a glass of water, are you referring to the water or the glass? When you hold up an apple and say apple (presumably in your most saccharine infant-voice), how does your child know that apple is not the word for red? Context.
Image Via Social Media Medics
Learning more vocabulary at an early age makes your child more likely to succeed academically and professionally. Studies have shown that a gigantic personal lexicon is one of the highest predictors of career success (though, of course, socioeconomic and cultural factors can impact which children have the largest vocabularies). A strong vocabulary enhances reading comprehension, which is critical for test-taking. Though direct vocabulary questions are no longer on the SAT, ‘word in context’ questions remain a sub-score category. Not too worried about your infant taking the SAT? They aren’t either. Better get in those words while they’re young enough not to know how much they have to learn! They might not always beg to stay up late reading.
Image Via NHPR
To encourage the development of even more significant reading comprehension skills, ask your child questions about the story as you read. These can be open ended—in fact, it’s better if they are! Not only will you ensure your child understands the story on a deeper level, but you’ll also encourage critical thinking skills. As we all remember (thanks, Shakespeare and high school English classes), stories are often just as much about what’s on the page as they are about our own interpretations. The benefits don’t stop there. Reading to your child improves concentration (just maybe not yours). Reading also helps children to develop empathy, a helpful bit of emotional intelligence that will keep your child from being a demon on the playground.
And it’s not the most important thing, but it’ll come in handy later: if you read to your children now, they’re going to kick ass at Scrabble.
Featured Image Via Guyana Ministry of Education