Do you want to give your infant a jump start on his or her development? Then forget about all of the things on your “to-do” list, and sit down and read him/her a good book!
According to Samantha Stern, training and development director at Ebenezer Child Care Centers, “You can’t even begin to imagine how important reading is to early learning. Children’s self-esteem and confidence levels are directly related to their ability to learn to read. Reading is a major milestone in early childhood development and imperative to your children’s future success.”
How Children Learn
Stern says that when children are approximately 18 months to two years of age, they are in the earliest developmental stage of literacy. During this time, they will start to understand rhymes and sounds in words. From there, children will progress into the decoding stage, where they will learn the alphabet as well as the sounds that letters make which will help them eventually learn to read.
Stern adds that, once children start to read, it’s imperative that they continue to develop this skill from kindergarten to third grade. Students who do not gain strong reading skills during these years are more likely to struggle with learning in later years.
Parents can assist with the development of reading skills by read sharing. This is when a parent reads one page in a book and the child reads the next page.
Stern says, “As a parent, you are one of the greatest influences on your children. Therefore it’s critical for you to instill the love of reading early on in your child’s development. Read to your children when they are infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. When they become school-agers, have them read to you as well.”
Creating Reading Opportunities
Stern also suggests that you make sure you have plenty of reading materials that will hold your children’s attention throughout your house. If your child is an infant or toddler, cloth books and board books are perfect for them, because they provide excellent sensory experiences in addition to having simple themes and visually appealing graphics. Preschoolers can usually sit and listen to more detailed picture books with more engaging story lines, and young school-age children should have chapter books read to them.
“A good rule of thumb is to read to children at a level that is a bit higher than what they can do by themselves,” say Stern. “That way you are able to introduce new vocabulary and types of books to them.”
Stern also says that you should regularly visit your local library to pick out new books together. Check out books based on your children’s current interests. If your children are currently interested in bugs, check out books about bugs. If you are planning a visit to the zoo, check out zoo-related books.
“Going to the library is a great activity to do together. It doesn’t cost any money, and it can provide your children with opportunities to explore all of the literature out there and find out what really interests them.”
Finally, Stern says that it’s critical to make reading a part of your daily routine. The more children read, the more they will enjoy it!
Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Early Reading Promotes Better Thinking” on Wednesday, September 23, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at their Oak Creek Center located at 220 W. Forest Hill Avenue. Come learn more about how to early reading promotes better thinking and enjoy dinner on us. This event, which is sponsored by Children’s Hospital’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Fund, is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Please call 414-643-5070 to register.