LIFESTYLE NEWS - Many children that speak fluently and confidently in languages other than their home tongue began the process by reading books and reading aloud to a teacher or parent.
On Wednesday 5 February, South African children had another opportunity to enhance their ability as the Reading Aloud programme kicked off.
Reading aloud to someone or listening to someone else read aloud promoted stronger vocabulary and enhanced children’s language learning, experts said.
A loud reading voice lingered in a child’s ears longer, becoming part of the child’s knowledge enhancing system, they added.
Experts from READ Education Trust said children who grow up reading with understanding were on a sure path to success.
“Kids don’t just hear the word in isolation; they are exposed to the context in which that word is used. This opens up a world of possibility for them, and expands their communication potential.”
READ appealed to adults to do their bit for the sake of children’s future. “Help the children you know, stand out of the crowd today!” they said.
Grandmother Sisi Woko, from Zola in Soweto, whose granddaughter is in Grade 3 at a local school, said that since the child had been reading books aloud, she had come to enjoy it and it had improved her speaking ability.
“She now speaks with confidence although she began speaking loudly when conversing with us in English. I have no doubt that reading is the answer to getting our children to increase their vocabulary and improve their speaking skills,” Woko said.
Research has shown that nearly 80% of Grade 4 pupils in the country could not read with comprehension in any language, including their home language.
For that reason, a day was identified on the international calendar for every teacher, parent and child to pay attention to reading. It’s on 5 February every year and is called World Read Aloud Day.
READ, which has successfully promoted literacy to the historically disadvantaged since its inception in 1979, said that reading aloud alleviated “attention deficit”.
It added: “But just imagine the power that is just waiting to be unleashed in a few weekly read aloud sessions in the classroom setting!
“No phones to distract the thoughts, and someone who reads a popular choice of reading material, grabbing the audience’s interest, increasing the pupils’ attention span.
“Make no mistake, the right book, read by an enthusiastic reader, can make a world of difference to children, young and old!” READ said.
“A well-written story can communicate coping skills to a group of pupils who might be faced with a particular problem. Reading aloud can provide a safe way of identifying emotions in the classroom or home setting.
“Think of a topic like bullying, for example. A gripping tale on the subject could encourage children to express their feelings during discussion time, and help to diffuse emotions,” READ added.
Both in the classroom and at home, reading aloud also promoted bonding. Spending quality time with children helped adults unwind; reinforced relationships and assisted children to develop social and interpersonal skills.
A parent from Fourways, Laura Smith, said reading helped greatly to facilitate knowledge expansion among children.
“A child who likes to read will always want to read something other than school books, and that way the child gains further knowledge about many other things.
“Aloud reading also helps them to be fluent in speaking,” Smith said.