Stapleton Pediatrics Blog

The Importance of Early Literacy

By Rich Gustafson, MD

Research dramatically confirms that talking, reading and singing to your child beginning at birth is extremely important in building strong and healthy parent-child relationships, fostering early language skills and promoting children’s brain development.  I was fortunate to recently attend the American Academy of Pediatrics’ National Convention where an early literacy toolkit called Books Build Connections was unveiled. This toolkit contains valuable resources for pediatricians and parents. I encourage all parents to access the toolkit directly here.
Here are some highlights:
Helping Your Child Learn to Read
As you read to your child, point your finger to the words. Make funny noises and voices that coincide with the story to keep your child engaged. Ask your child questions about the pictures and what is happening in the story. If your child asks a question in the middle of the story, stop to answer and discuss it. Also, continue reading to your child even after he/she learns to read. Try to set aside some time every day to read together.
Sharing Books With Your Child
The toolkit offers tips on ways to share books with children at all stages: from birth to 11 months, toddlers, preschoolers and school age. Each resource goes into great depth offering ideas and activities for you and your child to engage in together that will help develop both reading skills and a love for reading itself.
The Secret to a Smarter Baby    
While there are many educational games and CDs on the market right now, the truth is you don’t have to buy a product to stimulate your baby. Just by talking to your baby, singing to him/her, playing pretend, and taking walks, you are not only fostering brain development, you are bonding with your child – and that has immeasurable benefits. Also remember to turn off the TV and screens. If screens are on, your attention is focused on them, not your baby.
The 5 Rs of Early Education
We’ve already discussed the benefits of reading to your child from an early age, and the AAP’s toolkit goes into much more detail with advice on how to make the most of your reading time. It’s also good to keep the “5 Rs” of early education in mind as you approach any reading or learning activity with your child:
Reading – make reading a fun, daily activity
Rhyming – something you can do while reading, talking and singing
Routines – for meals, play and sleep; kids like to know what to expect
Rewards – giving rewards for success; praise is often the best reward
Relationships –strong, healthy relationships with your children are the foundation of early brain and child development
Do you have ideas about how to foster early learning? Share them with us in the comments below!
Posted: 12/11/2014 6:09:44 AM by | with 0 comments

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