I am excited to present this guest post written by Leanne Sherred, M.S. CCC-SLP.
Leanne calls Austin, Texas home but studied Speech and Hearing Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and gained her Master’s in Speech-language pathology from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She has worked in pediatric outpatient clinics, schools, early intervention, and home health. As many SLPs do, she found working with students, patients, and clients to be her favorite part, but dreaded the paperwork headache of insurance submissions and SO many denials. So with the combined brain power of her husband, Nick – who has experience in the healthcare tech industry – and two other teammates, the vision for Expressable was created. A telepractice company, Expressable envisions a modern and affordable way for anyone who needs speech therapy to access it – with all the superb convenience of therapy at home and without breaking the bank.
As a speech-language pathologist, I know that a child’s reading abilities are inextricably linked to their social, academic, and emotional development. The benefits of reading are near limitless: books stimulate the imagination, expand children’s vocabulary, develop their speech, language and listening skills, and help them succeed in the classroom.
And while we all know this intuitively and anecdotally, the statistics are still jarring. Whenever I see a newly published study, I can’t help but be surprised at just how important reading is for early language learners. So I thought I’d spend a few moments reviewing some key research, starting with a new study out of Ohio State University.
According to researchers, young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to.
That’s a lot of words.
And this “million word gap” is key to explaining differences in vocabulary and reading development between those that were raised in a literacy-rich environment versus those that were not.
It also adds to the growing clinical consensus of the effects a lack of reading has on language delays and impairment in children.
- 52% of children with language impairment also have reading difficulties (Tomblin, Zhang, Backwalter & Catts, 2000)
- The amount of time students spend reading is the best predictor of reading achievement (Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding, 1988)
- At-home reading is highly correlated with academic achievement, according to a comprehensive, 5-year study (Alston-Abel, Berninger 2017)
Benefits of Reading To Your Child From an Early Age
Children take their first critical steps toward learning to read and write very early in life. That’s why it’s important for parents to begin reading to their children in infancy, building good habits that will benefit them in adulthood.
In one study, children who are read to regularly by the the age of two display greater language comprehension, larger vocabularies, and higher cognitive skills than their peers (Raikes, Pan, Luze, Tamis-LeMonda, Brooks-Gunn, Constantine, Tarullo, Raikes, Rodriguez 2006).
Many studies show that when students are exposed to reading prior to preschool, they are more likely to succeed academically when they reach their formal education.
- Students not reading well in third grade are 4 times more likely to drop out (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010)
- Children growing up in homes with at least twenty books get three years more schooling than children from bookless homes, independent of their parents’ education, occupation, and class (Evans, Kelley, Sikora, Treiman, 2010).
So What Makes Reading So Special?
According to a study completed by the University of Michigan, there are five early reading skills that are essential for development. They are:
- Phonemic awareness – Being able to hear and identify individual sounds in spoken words.
- Phonics – The ability to connect the letters of written language with the sounds of spoken language.
- Vocabulary – The words we all must know to communicate effectively.
- Reading comprehension – Being able to fully understand and derive meaning from what we read.
- Fluency (oral reading) – Being able to read text accurately and quickly.
Reading to children in their infancy, and surrounding them with a literacy-rich environment, is one of the most helpful things parents can do to help their child grow and thrive into adulthood. It also helps parents bond with their child and create meaningful relationships that last a lifetime.