March 2nd was not only Dr. Seuss’s Birthday but it also kicked off National Reading Month! To many parents and caregivers reading is one of the most important milestones that children reach. There are many things that can be done at home and in daycare that can help children learn to read however it should be noted that putting pressure on children to develop skills before they are ready can not only frustrate children but hinder them from developing a lifelong enjoyment of reading.
By a child’s first birthday they are able to start assigning meaning to basic words that are repetitive in their lives, by 18 months children begin adding words to their vocabulary at an astounding rate of two words every hour. By two years old children have about 1,000-2,000 words and can begin forming a simple sentence.
Experiences that children have throughout the first few years of life lend themselves to developing these early literacy skills. Even before children can form words having “conversations” with adults and listening to conversations others are having can help children develop word associations. Having these verbal and non-verbal interactions with your child from the time they are born can not only help with literacy but also create a bonding experience between adult and child.
Reading favorite books aloud to your child helps develop positive feelings about reading. When parents and caregivers read aloud and even read to themselves they are modeling the value and joy of reading which can also help children develop positive associations with reading.
Many play experiences are also responsible for enriching these early literacy experiences. Sorting, matching, sequencing and playing with alphabet blocks all help to develop the building blocks of literacy.
Music and rhyming games also can help develop early literacy skills. When children interact with sounds and language through, music, rhyming, and other games they are making connections that will later help them make connections learning how to read through decoding print.
Recent research has shown that reading abilities are a reflection of a child’s life experiences. While nurturing early literacy is important it is equally as important that we do not put an unfair amount of pressure on children or ourselves and understand that every child will develop at a pace that is right for them.
Happy National Reading Month, take the time to pull a favorite book off the shelf and read aloud to the early learner in your life!