When we think of literacy, we often interpret it to be an engagement with language in terms of reading and writing. Not only is it one of the most important abilities a person can have, but also commonly associated with a child’s potential to perform well in school. While there is undoubtedly a strong link between literacy and academic performance, this common association can be detrimental to children who are pressured to read extensively before the school term begins. Apart from causing unnecessary stress for parent and child, imposing a time frame on the acquisition of knowledge is never effective for a learning child. In order to understand this better, it is important to take a closer look at the correlation between reading and brain development. Here are four major ways reading affects the cognitive development of children:
1. HELPS WITH EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
When we read, our brain releases a cocktail of hormones that make us happy. These chemicals are none other than dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. When they course through our bodies, our brain forms new learning styles through synapses. This establishes new habits and open pathways to learning. Children also learn to empathise when they instinctively place themselves in the shoes of characters and flex their imagination.
2. ENHANCES CREATIVITY
Research has shown that the visual processing center of the brain- also known as the occipital lobe- is more developed in readers than non-readers. In other words, readers can process visual information more efficiently. This aids children in making good decisions and planning their time wisely. To add on, the parietal lobes which are responsible for interpreting sensory information, are significantly strengthened. This helps children string letters into words and words into thoughts. When children learn to do so, they exercise their imagination in powerful and vivid ways.
3. EXPANDS VOCABULARY BANK
Without a doubt, there is a strong relationship between vocabulary range and word-reading ability. After all, an avid reader is likely to come across new words and master them with ease. More importantly, this process of learning vocabulary stimulates brain areas that support mental imagery. Over time, children learn to truly comprehend the story beyond pictures, and eventually advance from picture books to short stories, where they must learn to imagine what is going on in the text.
4. RETAINS MEMORY AND IMPROVES THINKING ABILITY
The act of reading leads to the strengthening of overall brain function and memory. It also improves overall mental flexibility, which further develops memory function. In recent years, a research by the University of California has found that reading can lower the levels of beta-amyloid , a brain protein crucially involved in Alzheimer’s disease, thus keeping the mind stimulated.
Ultimately, picking up literacy skills is a process that requires time and patience. Children who are allowed to learn at a comfortable pace will benefit the most as their brains are given sufficient time to make connections with new pieces of information. Literacy is about building the right foundation, and this can be achieved only when brain development occurs. With a deeper understanding of how brain development relates to reading literacy, parents and educators are better equipped to help their child’s cognitive abilities flourish.
At School of Concepts, we believe in empowering children through literacy. With our in-house developed ‘scaffolding’ technique, little ones pick up literacy skills and phonetic concepts by overcoming bite-sized incremental challenges. Our materials are designed to grow with a child's cognitive abilities, ensuring that they can take on each stage of primary school. If you would like to learn more about our lessons, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 6909 1883.