Posted on March 24, 2015
by Mindy Boyd, director of student services
We are all familiar with the old saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” And, we all know what a bookworm represents when referring to reading. But what do these two familiar references have to do with one another? Well, surprisingly, the commonality is the worm! Take a moment to think outside the box, and I promise I’ll make my point.
You may be asking whom the early bird represents? In this case, the early bird is your child, but you play an important part. You are the deciding factor for your “early” bird. And if that isn’t pressure enough, you play a huge role in helping your child catch the worm….the bookworm that is.
As parents, we all want our children to become bookworms. We all understand the importance of reading as it relates to success in school and ultimately in life. The opportunity for creating the foundation for reading begins in the “early” years. Research into the human brain and its development is providing evidence that as you talk, sing, and read to your child, the brain’s cells are literally turned on. Existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new cells and links are formed (Shore, 1997). Children develop much of their capacity for learning in the first three years of life. Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read (National Research Council, 1998).
Now that we know the “early” years are crucial, how can we help our children catch the worm? I saw something recently in an article and thought that it provided great steps for us to think about when reading with our children. The author called it the ABCs of reading with your child:
- Aloud-Reading to your child 20 minutes a day from birth to age five provides 600 hours of essential pre-literacy preparation before entering school.
- Basic knowledge before entering kindergarten-Reading with your child will expose him to letters, sounds, and rhymes. It will help him understand various print concepts (e.g., reading moves left to right, meaning comes from words, and pictures help meaning) and aid in his ability to retell what occurred in the beginning, middle, and end of the story. Fostering comprehension can begin even before he can read independently.
- Conversations-Reading is about language. Reading with your child allows you to immerse your child in rich conversation and exposes him to new vocabulary.
As promised, I told you I would explain the correlation between the early bird and the bookworm. Helping your “early” bird catch the worm, and not just any ole worm but the bookworm, begins EARLY and starts with YOU! Reading early and often with your child is key, but it is never too late to start opening the reading door for your child.