Christmas with a book
In our childhood memories, we often associate Christmas time with a book that simply belongs under the tree. Our parents and grandparents have known for a long time that stories need to be told and read to children from an early age. And so we found the books under the tree, and we give them there to our loved ones, children or grandchildren. And sometimes we give books to ourselves just to be happy because there is a chance that we will find time to read at Christmas.
The importance of reading in child´s development
Today, these wise customs and traditions, which have been intuitively passed down from generation to generation, are already the subject of scientific research. The results of research confirm that reading books is of irreplaceable importance in the development of the child, it benefits and is a source of development in practically all areas of the child´s psyche. Its developmental potential is demonstrated especially in relation to speech development and language cognition. However, cognitive functions and thinking are also formed hand in hand with language, the child progresses in cognitive development, learns about the world around him and namely through literature, he learns about the world of people. We educate children by reading books to them, enrich and cultivate their emotions, create and strengthen a long-term relationship and interest in reading. Such childhood experiences are usually accompanied by success in school and further self-education. The education and cultural compendium that we acquire from reading contribute to the formation of a more positive self-image, satisfactory social application, mental well-being and overall quality of life. Last but not least, it is known, as well as scientifically proven, that a high level of reading literacy of the population corresponds to the level of democracy and economic prosperity of society (Milner, 2002).
Our research and its findings
Several IRSC SAS projects are based on such findings. One of them was the participation in the drawing up and developing a new State educational program for pre-primary education, which is used in the practice of kindergartens since 2016. VEGA project no. 2/0134/18 Pedagogical and developmental-psychological impacts of innovations in pre-primary education (information on both can be found on the SAS website under Reports section, 56/2, 2020, pp. 16-17) also monitored the impacts of the new concept of language education in this program, especially on the levels of linguistic, cognitive and metacognitive development. Today, when this project ends, we can say that many of the findings we are writing about here have been confirmed. Monitoring the selection of children who attend kindergarten since 2016 showed that the frequency, scope of reading, or rich experience with reading for pre-school children have a significant positive effect on the monitored indicators. In addition to how much and how often we read to children, it is also important what we do - besides reading. What methodological procedures, accompanying activities, interviews stimulated by questions of various types (...) we use when working with narrative and informational texts. In particular, the impact of such education has been demonstrated on indicators of text comprehension and narrative production. The research also confirmed that in the case of pre-school children, with an appropriately aimed metacognitive intervention, through adequate feedback, a certain degree of reflection of correctness in assessing their answers can be achieved, or rather an accuracy of metacognitive monitoring of understanding, which, at the same time, leads to improved performance.
Monitoring a specific sample of children from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, i.e. children who - unfortunately - probably do not get those books under the Christmas tree, showed that kindergarten is an important and often the only solution here. And that quality - systematic and purposeful pre-school education, focused on the development of early language literacy, can largely compensate for the handicaps of the socio-cultural environment of the family.
The above-mentioned findings and findings of our research, which are followed by new projects (APVV-19-0074; VEGA 2/0026/21) contribute to solving several current issues of education, provide arguments for the discussion on compulsory pre-school attendance and today also to specific steps of implementation of the compulsory pre-primary education in cooperation with the Ministry of Education (MU).
Text: Oľga Zápotočná, Institute for Research in Social Communication SAS