As soon as a child is born, he or she begins to develop language and literacy skills. During the first three years of a child’s life, his or her brain will grow to 90 percent of its eventual adult weight. It is during this time in a child’s life that he or she will also develop much of his or her ability and capacity for learning. So—parents and other adult caregivers who engage in fun, verbally stimulating early literacy activities with the young children in their care are directly contributing to their positive mental development.
In order for a child to begin to learn to read and write in Kindergarten and first grade, he or she must have already developed the language and “pre-reading” skills necessary for him or her to begin to do this. People who regularly care for children from birth until just prior to their entering Kindergarten can greatly increase these children’s chances for reading and writing success later by engaging in early literacy activities with them. These include:
- regularly reading to children (even when they’re babies)
- engaging them in two-way “talking and listening” conversations and storytelling
- helping children recognize letterforms in print, on computing screens and on signs
- helping them recognize the “smaller sounds” that make up whole words