Thursday, February 15, 2007

Growing Up To Read

Article taken from "Starting Out Right"

Children begin to develop their language skills in infancy. Even their babbles and coos and the ways their families speak to them before they really understand can help them to become speakers of their native tongue. When an infant shows excitement over pictures in a storybook, when a two-year-old scribbles with a crayon, when a four-year-old points out letters in a street sign--all of these actions signal a child's growing literacy development.

The more children already know about the nature and purposes of reading before kindergarten, the more teachers have to build on in their reading instruction. Research reveals that the children most at risk for reading difficulties in the primary grades are those who began school with less verbal skill, less phonological awareness, less letter knowledge, and less familiarity with the basic purposes and mechanisms of reading.

To prepare children for reading instruction in the early grades, it is best that they be exposed to high-quality language and literacy environments--in their homes, day care centers, and preschools. The best time to start sharing books with children is during babyhood, even when they are as young as six weeks. Families, early childhood educators, health care professionals, and communities can bring literacy into the lives of young children.

Early research dating back to the 1930s suggested that there was little use in teaching children how to read until they had already conquered specific readiness skills, such as certain fine motor skills and the ability to tell right from left.

Today, researchers know more. They know that growing up to be a reader depends mostly on the child's knowledge about language and print. A wide range of experiences with printed and spoken language, from infancy through early childhood, strongly influences a child's future success in reading. What is good for a six-year-old, however, is not necessarily good for a three-year-old. Children need activities they will enjoy and can succeed at, without being pushed uncomfortably beyond their current developmental stage.

-- Even when children cannot yet spell,
they learn from trying to write.

-- Even when children cannot yet read,
they learn from being read to.

Article taken from "Starting Out Right"