A baby’s brain begins to make connections through responsive and engaging environments from the moment they are born. In fact, how we communicate and respond in the environment makes a difference in how children develop and learn new words. Between birth and 6 months infants are learning different sounds, cooing and making sounds and by 6 months babies begin to babble. This is why language and reading to infants is important for brain development. From birth to age 5, research shows that 90% of a child’s brain has developed. Why is this important? For children to develop bigger vocabularies and strong language skills we need to read! Reading to children creates a foundation for learning through language. If we want to help children develop the skills needed for academic success, we need to read to our children daily. Jeff Grabmeire reports that: “Young children whose parents read five books to them, a day, enter kindergarten having heard 1.4 million more words then kids who were never read to.” Powerful statement!
Imagine how important this is for children during the summer months? Research shows that children who do not read during the summer months develop what is known as the “summer slide” and are said to lose around 3 months of their reading achievement. This doesn’t need to happen. If you read at least 1 book a day to your child he will hear 290,000 more words.
Here are some strategies you can use at home with your child:
· Read to your baby or child instead of watching TV or having screen time
· Create a daily ritual with your child that they look forward to (i.e. bedtime routine)
- Create games that require reading instructions, even picture instructions, such as a scavenger hunt or treasure map
· Allow your child to touch, turn, and point to picture as you read
· During household routines such as cooking or folding laundry, have young children hold a book while you read simple text and with older children, have them read to you.
· Sing songs and recite nursery rhymes
· Make a book using family photos and add new words to create your own story
· Visit a library in your community to check out books your child will love. If your child’s older let them pick out books they would like you to read.
· Participate in reading groups in your community such as Dion’s, participate in Barnes & Noble book readings and Scholastic on-line reading challenge.
Source: ”A million word gap’ for children who aren’t read to at home,” by Jeff Grabmeire, April 4, 2019, osu.edu