Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Is Your Child Ready to Read?

by Debbie Heaton

Teaching your child to read early has multiple benefits and is the key to your child's academic future.  Why? Because reading is at the heart of all formal education; other advantages include neurological, educational, psychological, social, and linguistic characteristics.

Reading helps to develop a young child’s brain.  In the first six years, children learn at a faster pace than at any other time in their lives.  Necessary connections in the brain are made very early in life.  At birth, a healthy baby is born with approximately 200 billion active brain cells.  Given the right kind of stimulation, each of these brain cells is capable of multiplying and ensuring connections between them which store additional information.  Through these connections and early experiences, the basis of all future learning and intellectual ability form.

As parents talk, sing and read to their children, existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new links are formed.  At a younger age, learning is faster than it will be as the child grows older.  When a child is taught to read, the process of learning has a profound influence on the entire functioning and development of the brain.  Parents can play a critical early role by implanting not only reading skills and ability but more importantly, instilling a lifelong love of reading.

Reading opens the door to your child’s academic success and imparts a love of learning that leads to higher grades in every subject.  Strong language skills are the basis for literacy development.  When children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, expand their vocabulary and become more fluent readers.  They also have improved attention spans and better concentration.  Early readers can recognize a larger number of words by sight, which enables them to learn more from and about their environment.

A child who learns to read joyfully at home, at an early age, with a loving parent or caregiver, grows in self-confidence and independence.  Reading promotes greater maturity, increases discipline and lays the basis for moral literacy.  It sparks curiosity about people, places and things and also satisfies the child’s curiosity by providing explanations of how things work.  It also exposes the child to a range of problem-solving techniques while igniting the child’s creativity and imagination.

Even at a young age, children have social awareness.  They know who is more popular.  They can tell who can do what.  If there are a few children in kindergarten who know how to read, they may receive awards and certificates, be called upon to choose books or are encouraged to write, illustrate and read aloud their own stories.  In some schools, they may even be asked to help other children, who may still be struggling with basic letter recognition.

Early readers have the opportunity to relate to their peers on a more confident, more competent level as they are already being recognized for their superior accomplishments.  Such experiences increase the child’s social status among peers as well as his or her self-image and self-confidence.

Children who can read independently and early have more opportunities to encounter the written word.  The sooner children learn how to read, the more books, knowledge, and ideas they will be exposed to.  The result is improved linguistic skills in the form of a richer vocabulary, correct grammar, improved writing, better spelling and more articulate oral communication.

Graham County’s very own “Story Lady,” Giane Powell, earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and has worked at the Safford Library for 23 years providing Storytime, Summer Reading and Early Literacy programs.  Giane provides the following information to parents in short presentation formats:

Help Your Child Get Ready to Read

From the time they are infants, children learn language and other important skills that will help them learn to read.  As parents and/or caregivers, you have been your child’s teacher from the day he or she was born.  You know more about your child than anyone else.  You are in the best position to help your child get ready to read because:
  • Young children have short attention spans.  You can do activities for short bits of time throughout the day.
  • You can help your children learn in ways and at times that are best for them.
  • Parents are tremendous role models—if your children see that you think reading is important and enjoy it, they will follow your lead.
  • Children learn best by doing—and they love doing things with YOU!
  • To become successful readers, children need to understand the meaning of what they read.  Making sense of written language—comprehension—is at the heart of what it means to be a good reader.
  • Vocabulary and comprehension skills start to develop from the time a child is an infant.  A baby listens to what parents and other caregivers say and they learn the meaning of words.
  • The more language experiences children have the more words they learn and the better they become at understanding the meaning of what is being said.  This will help children understand the meaning of written words as they learn to read.

The best way to help your child get ready to read is to spend time with them.  Talk, sing, read, write, and play.  Just have fun!!!

You can visit Giane Powell at the Safford Library and check out her Toddler Storytime on Tuesdays from 10:30 to 11:15; Pajama Time on Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 7:30pm; Preschool Storytime on Wednesdays from 10:30 to 11:30 and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:00; and Open Play Time on Wednesdays from 2:00 to 4:00pm.

It’s never too early to begin reading to your child.  Even the youngest babies will gradually come to associate books with the warmth of being held by you and the soothing sound of your voice.  By establishing reading time as an enjoyable time, you’re helping to jump-start a lifetime of reading and learning—a benefit that lasts throughout childhood and beyond.

Debbie A. Heaton is an author, parent educator, and a master’s level therapist currently employed with The Parent Connection, a member of Arizona’s Children Association Family of Agencies.  The Parent Connection utilizes the Adlerian approach to parenting.

1 comment:

  1. To help make learning to read fun and engaging, our reading program includes lesson stories that are matched to the progress of your child's reading abilities.

    These lessons stories are part of the learning program, and comes with colorful illustrations to make learning reading fun and engaging for you and your child.

    These are the exact same stories and step-by-step lessons that we used to teach our own children to read!

    Find out here: Teach Your Child To Read?

    Best rgs