The Importance of Reading, Writing and Arithmetic in Early Life and Beyond

(by guest blogger Pam Johnson) Educational psychologists have stressed the importance of reading, writing and arithmetic for decades. When teachers instill in their students reading, writing and arithmetic skills early on, children demonstrate higher academic achievement and even higher cognitive ability scores years later.

What is Reading?

Reading is often colloquially defined as the process of assimilating new written information. In a broader sense, however, reading is the cognitive skill that involves making sense of symbols and deriving meaning from those symbols. Both reading and writing involve sharing and disseminating information.
Structure of Language

Reading and writing depend on the early acquisition of certain skills. To show high reading proficiency and comprehension, a working knowledge of syntax, diction and semantics is necessary to cultivate early in the schooling process.

Matthew Effect

The more one reads, the more words one is exposed to. The idea behind the Matthew Effect is that early and slow reading acquisition will hamper later reading and cognitive development; alternatively, high reading acquisition will enhance later reading proficiency and cognitive development.

The Matthew Effect's namesake originates from the bible maxim that posits the rich get richer. In layman's terms this means that high reading acquisition pays cognitive dividends down the road.

CHC Theory

The prevailing theory on cognitive ability within the psychological community is the one devised by Cattell, Horn and Carroll. CHC Theory is predicated on the finding that crystallized intelligence and fluid intelligence are extraordinarily important cognitive skills.

Crystallized intelligence is defined as the depth and breadth of one's knowledge and the ability to reason and communicate with that knowledge. In other words, crystallized intelligence is one's cultural understanding.

A large component of crystallized intelligence is sheer vocabulary size. Interestingly, the size of one's vocabulary is a serviceable proxy for cognitive ability. Crystallized intelligence, the size of one's vocabulary and IQ correlate very highly with one another.

In light of these findings, instilling an early enthusiasm and aptitude for reading may indirectly enhance cognitive ability by increasing one's vocabulary and crystallized intelligence.

Reading Influences Everything

The world around us is composed of words. Moreover, a knowledge of how to shape words into persuasive prose can help one achieve academic, occupational and material success later in life.

Modern research has demonstrated that early reading acquisition is correlated with a host of positive cognitive outcomes. The importance of reading, writing and arithmetic should not be underestimated in today's world of burgeoning technology and intellectual complexity.

Importantly, the American Psychological Association brings up another set of Rs in lieu of reading, writing and arithmetic. The American Psychological Association has recently found a correlation between reasoning, resilience and responsibility to later academic success.

Researchers including Sternberg have uncovered a link between reasoning, resilience and responsibility to social skills beyond content knowledge. In the APA's groundbreaking study on the new three Rs, students demonstrated higher social responsibility and willingness to learn novel material.
Perhaps interpersonal success is as important as academic excellence. There certainly is a place in tomorrow's workforce for high IQ and high EQ employees.

Author Pam Johnson is an elementary school teacher who obtained her degree from one of the Top 10 Best Online Master of Education Degree Programs.

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