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"Children who receive stimulating literacy experiences from birth onward appear to have an edge when it comes to vocabulary development, understanding the goals of reading, and developing an awareness of print and literacy concepts. Children who are read to frequently at a very young age become exposed in interesting and exciting ways to the sounds of our language, to the concept of rhyming, and to other word and language play activities that serve to provide the foundation for the development of phoneme awareness." 

– G. Reid Lyon, CEO of Synergistic Education Solutions

A strong foundation for literacy can be built for a child during the years from birth to preschool age. This is fundamental preparatory time that should not be overlooked. The skill of reading is developed from so much more than sitting with a child while reading a book or practicing sight word flashcards.

The ability to read comes from listening to language, synthesizing it, and then giving a verbal response back. Infants and young children learn while they are "on the job" growing up. They are listening, imbibing, and soaking every tidbit of language they hear. Not one of your words is wasted on them. Their brains are mapping and cataloguing it all.

So learning to read at this very early stage is more of an art than a science. There are no workbooks or graded readers. No testing or pressure. It's just pure language shared between adult and child. Talking, singing, babbling, or just making goofy noises with your baby or toddler will all contribute to their literacy development.

The great thing is that most parents do many of these activities already. Increased awareness of the importance of these activities as well as the use and practice of additional experiences (such as taking a nature walk with your baby or focusing on environmental print with your toddler) will more quickly propel youngsters toward reading one day.

Remember, some children enter preschool having had minimal conversation with adult family members, while other preschoolers come from homes that value quality verbal communication. In addition, some children enter kindergarten having heard an average of ten books whereas others have heard hundreds prior to their first day of school. Which child do you think will learn to read more quickly, love school, and have a more successful academic experience?


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