I have heard that reading is key to kids' success. Is this true?
You are correct! Reading is at the heart of academic achievement. It’s easy to see why. Reading opens the doors to new people, places, and cultures. It stimulates the imagination like no other medium can. It also reinforces organized thinking because things we read are structured with a beginning, middle and end. When we read this structure and discipline becomes part of the way we think. Perhaps that’s why research clearly shows that reading is one of the strongest predictors of school success.
Raising our children to be readers, then, is a very important responsibility. The first, and perhaps the most important, step we can take is talking with our children from the moment they are born. Children start the process of distinguishing different sounds in first days of their lives. The more parents and others talk to children, the more practice they get and the faster they are able to pick out sounds they then begin to imitate themselves. We call this early imitation “babbling,” which makes it sound random, but it isn’t. Recent research definitively shows that very young infants are quickly engaged in the process of trying to reproduce the sounds they hear. The words that emerge many months later have been under construction for a long time.
Studies show that one of the strongest predictors of later reading ability is the amount of one-to-one conversation between caregiver and baby in the first three years of life. The ability to differentiate sounds is the first crucial step on the path that later will lead to the ability to associate sounds with letters. So engage your child’s language development by talking with her a lot, even before she is able to speak. Tell her about her world, what things are, what she’s doing and what you’re doing. Because children learn to speak by copying the language they hear, they need talkative role models.
Reading’s first lessons don’t happen in school. They happen in the crib. When we talk to babies and read them stories before they can even hold a book, we are taking the first important steps in raising readers.
Check out these Quick Tips for Raising Readers!