Digital media and screens are now ubiquitous in the lives of children. Allowing pre-school children to play on tablets, mobile phones and long periods of screen time affects their development by the age of five, researchers have found. ( Madigan S, Browne D, Racine N, Mori C, Tough S. Association Between Screen Time and Children’s Performance on a Developmental Screening Test. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 28, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5056)
Scientists assessed the communication, language, motor skills of 2,441 children at the age of two, three and five. They found those who were exposed to the most screentime at the age of two showed poorer development by the age of three. And those who spent most time in front of a screen at the age of three had poorer development at age five. Excessive screen time has been associated with various negative outcomes, including cognitive delays and poorer academic performance.
A lot of developmental growth (both physically and mentally) takes place before the age of 5, and parents know the importance of correct nurturing right from birth to ensure optimal growth for your child.
One simple and important way to do that is simply to cultivate a reading habit in your child. Many research have unveiled a plethora of benefits of reading.
Simply put, reading can rewire the brain, yes even in a young child, it helps to increase the area of white matter in the brain region responsible for language acquisition, The brain will be better able to process visual and verbal information more efficiently, improving the child's communication skills and learning ability. It enables the brain to also think in sequence, much like the structure of the story they are reading, with a beginning, middle and end.
Once your child gets into the habit of reading, they will be able to search for more information about topics they like, greatly increasing their thirst for knowledge, learning will get easier, motivation levels will rise. Your child will be making their first foray into self directed learning. Once a child knows how to read they will be more confident to grasp new knowledge and at the same time see reading as a pleasurable endeavour and not as a chore.
Reading fiction has also been shown to increase empathy and emotional intelligence. Reading fiction was found to improve the reader's ability to put themselves in another person’s shoes and flex the imagination in a way that is similar to the visualization of a muscle memory in sports, it improves the theory of mind.
Of course, regular reading also builds and improves a child's patience, diligence and determination, important attributes to support your child's future learning.
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