08 June 2018
Babies love books, but by middle school, many kids are reading only those books assigned to them by their teachers. In the USA, an alarming 66 percent of fourth graders in public school were reading below the recommended proficiency level. As parents, we all have memories of our favourite childhood books and characters – so what has happened to our kids?
Thanks to increased screen time, it’s become harder and harder to get kids to enjoy reading. There are so many alternative forms of entertainment available to kids today that reading can feel more like work, than play. But this false association is denying children the skill of reading, and the last thing that any parent wants is for their kids to never have the chance to understand the joy and adventure to be read in a great book!
Though learning to read is an essential skill, and a normal part of early childhood development, studies have found that children who read for leisure are better equipped with the vocabulary necessary to communicate to their peers, teachers, and parents. Education provider Gemm Learning says that children who have the ability to find the words they want to use are more likely to have a strong self-image and sense of confidence. Children who read are also more curious about people and places, and have been found to have enhanced attention and concentration.
If that isn’t enough, childhood reading also inspires creativity and imagination. While many people assume that creativity is an inherited talent, it has actually been found to be a skill that can be learned – keeping in mind that creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression – but is rather a skill essential for science, math and even social and emotional intelligence. Exposing kids to new ideas, concepts, people, and places equips kids to tackle complex problems creatively with their new-found understanding of the world and how it works. And the earliest and easiest way to expose kids to these complex problems is by getting them to read!
At YMCA Outside School Hours Care we see the importance of reading and most of our services have a designated reading area. We encourage children to read for pleasure, and to read socially with their peers. We’re always looking for more great stories to inspire our future leaders and thinkers – so if it’s time for a spring clean and you have books to donate, get in touch with your nearest YMCA OSHC here.