A mother once asked the the famous scientist, Albert Einstein, on how she could help her young son to become a scientist. In particular, the books she should read to her son. Without hesitation he responded, “fairy tales and then more fairy tales and then even more fairy tales!”
His message was clear. Einstein recognised that imagination and the ability to be creative is an essential quality needed to be a great scientist and that fairy tales in childhood were key to developing this.
Evidence and research shows that learning at home is the biggest influence in a child’s achievements. By the age of 6 children have learned and acquired 50% of the vocabulary they will use as an adult. Furthermore, a recent study found that children who shared and enjoyed books with their families from the age of 9 months achieved higher results in national English, maths and science tests, when tested at the age of 7.
Children spend a greater proportion of their time at home than at school, so whilst children may learn to read at school, it is often the family that develops a lifelong love of reading. Families can support their children at home by reading together and visiting the library. Playing with them is a huge part of this as play can take so many forms; from playing with letters, numbers and shapes, to painting, drawing and role play. Singing songs and nursery rhymes for instance helps children develop speaking and listening skills.
Time is always an issue but just finding even ten minutes to share a book a day can help children develop a love of stories and reading. Reading can happen at any time and any place, just keep a book with you. A bedtime story is the perfect way to settle children and help establish a bedtime routine. Simply looking at the pictures in the book and talking about what you see and what you think is happening helps children to use imagination as does making up and creating your own stories together.
We at Balsall Heath Children’s centre are pleased to support families in reading more. Look out for our Family Learning English classes or join our Families Matter sessions to help you and your child enjoy reading and learning together. Our Bookstart initiative supports early reading as do our many Stay and Play and nursery workshops.
In the next few weeks we will be launching our new Book Corner at Balsall Heath Children’s Centre. Please come along and enjoy the books. Remember, ‘a book is a dream that you hold in your hand’. Let’s read and dream together.
Hafsha D Shaikh