A child’s potential for becoming a successful reader and writer begins long before he or she enters Kindergarten and first grade. It is important for a child to develop a set of specific skills during the first five years of life. These “early literacy” skills involve a wide variety of activities that introduce a child to learning about reading and writing before they are actually taught to do either of these things. Parents and other adult caregivers who engage in these activities with children can have a very positive affect on their ability to learn to read and write successfully later on.
Toddlers who want their favorite book read to them over and over again, and who can recite a favorite story to an adult reader as that story is read, are engaging in early literacy activities. So is a teething baby who loves to chew on the corner of a book. Early literacy activities do not involve the teaching of reading or writing, but they do involve placing children in fun learning situations where they learn to talk and be listened to, to be read to, and to sing and be sung to.
Every time a parent or a sibling or an adult caregiver talks to, reads to, sings to or plays with a child is a time when that child’s brain is growing and being stimulated. Participating in these types of early literacy activities with children are essential to the formation of the “linguistic building blocks” necessary for reading and writing.
An enormous amount of brain development research exists to support the idea that reading to your child every day is the most important thing you can do to prepare him or her to begin to read and write.