Reading aloud every day is the single most important thing you can do to prepare your child to learn. It’s a message I share all the time.
More brain development occurs during the first 2000 days of a child’s development, namely from conception to kindergarten, than at any other time in life. And, if a child is read to, talked to, and reasoned with, he or she is using the brain circuits needed for reading, comprehension, and reasoning. Those circuits will be strengthened and stay in place.
Now a recent study conducted by researchers Colin Macleod and Noah Forrin at the University of Waterloo and published in the journal Memory, found that reading words aloud made them easier to remember compared to reading them silently.
The study used four different conditions to isolate exactly which elements were responsible for improved memory retention. The subject group of 95 students was asked to either read silently, read aloud, listen to recordings of other people reading, or listen to a recording of themselves reading. Memory retention was strongest when reading aloud directly, suggesting that the impact came not just from hearing the words, but also speaking them.
This is because verbally pronouncing a word creates a memorable experience — a phenomenon the researchers call the ‘production effect’. The active cognitive process of encoding the word into speech also helps to encode it into long-term memory. Also, they found that students did better on retention when they heard their own voice on the recordings. It suggested that hearing one’s own voice is a distinct stimulus of self-recognition, which also helps make the content memorable.
So, please read aloud everyday with the young children in your life. And, keep reading aloud together after your child can read independently as you expose them to new vocabulary and more complex information. And, encourage your child to read aloud too as they explore new books and information.
Brain science amazes and I’m grateful for researchers who help us understand why something as simple and seemingly insignificant as reading aloud matters. Even without scientific studies I hope you’ll try reading aloud everyday for the joy it brings!
Steacy Collyer, CEO, Calgary Reads