A favorite memory for many parents is reading aloud to their young children. But more than just a family routine or ritual, early and shared reading promotes early brain development and builds emotional bonds between parents and children during the critical early childhood years. Reading out loud, right from birth, is the foundation of your child’s literacy and a springboard for their future reading skills.
The Academy of Pediatrics has developed an Early Literacy Toolkit with ideas and suggestions that parents can adopt to support their child’s literacy. There is a toolkit for each critical age range in early childhood, infants up to 11 months, one year olds and two year olds. The advice in each toolkit takes advantage of the developmental stages at each age, so that parents can not only have fun, but do the most age appropriate activities to prepare their child for a life long love of reading and learning.
The Academy of Pediatrics’ Top Tips for Families for Early Reading and Literacy include using the 5 Rs of Early Education in your daily activities with your children, right from birth:
- Read together as a daily, fun, family activity.
- Rhyme, play, talk, and sing throughout the day.
- Build Routines for meals, play, and sleep. This helps children know what to expect and what is expected of them.
- Give praise Rewards for everyday successes (especially for effort toward goals like helping), understanding that praise from those closest to a child is a very potent reward.
- Develop Relationships that are nurturing, reciprocal, purposeful, and lasting. These are the foundations for a child’s early brain development.
In addition to reading, talk with your child about the things you see around you, at home, at the store, or while traveling to places. Acting out stories and taking time for pretend play with your young child is more than just fun, it helps build the capacity for the kind of abstract thinking future development depends on. And if you haven’t already, take time to visit one of our local libraries and enjoy story time. Even when your child has learned how to read do not stop reading out loud to your child – studies have found that parents reading out loud to their 6-11 year olds is one of the factors associated with children being more likely to be frequent readers later on. Happy reading!