Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar sponsored by Nemours Children's Health System to help educate bloggers and the public about their new program called Reading Bright Start! They sent me the above Reading Readiness swag bag to use at home and encourage literacy skills among my children (note: disclosure). Now, this webinar wasn't that new of information to me as I have done ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education, it's a MN Dept of Ed. program) with my kids since they were infants. I started reading to my kids the same day I brought them home from the hospital and made a routine our of reading before nap time and bedtime. I nursed both of my kids for the first year of their life and it was the perfect opportunity for them to listen to me read. I had their full attention while they were nursing and when I had my second born, my older child would hold the book for me while I read to both of them.
We still read with my kids before bedtime, even my 8 1/2 year old. If they still want you to read to them or with them, DO IT! It won't be long before they might say they don't want you there an you don't want to look back wishing you had read to them more. Not only are you reading to them, but you are giving them sensory input by touching them while you sit/lay next to each other. Some kids are very sensory in nature and find it calming to be touched while they are learning and for some kids being touched is one of their love languages and they are receiving information that they are loved and cared for while they are also learning words and increasing their vocabulary. There is SOOO MUCH good to come from sitting with your child or grandchild and reading to them.
But we didn't read at bedtime, nap time, or during nursing. We read all the time. I have books in each our cars (don't tell me you are bored while we are driving somewhere! read!) When they were really little we had those little waterproof bath books we read to them, and we had a couple of books (an Alphabet one and Nursery Rhyme one) that we read while they ate in their high chairs. We encourage literacy every chance we get because it is so important to helping them become good students and having an opportunity at more success in many facets of their lives. It's no wonder that my preschooler is sounding out short words already and my 3rd grader is above reading level for her grade.
Now that I have shared with you a bit about how literacy is important to our family, I also want to tell you more about how you can use Nemours Reading Bright Start! online program to help your family. You don't need to live in an area where Nemours services to use there online resources, plus it's FREE! Their website is targeted towards providing literacy tools to help children between the ages of 0-5 reach reading milestones. They have 8 separated sections based on different age groups from birth through age five to help you learn what skills you can be working on with them and milestones they should be reaching during this age group. Each of they sections includes milestone information for motor skills and language and cognitive skills, as well as a section on helping at home and another on warning signs, as well as fun ideas for books to be reading this age group. This is the 5 year old page (since I have a new 5 year old.)
One of the more interesting tools I found on the website is the Preschool Reading Screener for ages 3, 4, and 5. At the end of the screener you are provided instantly with the results and an action plan on how to help your child develop their literacy skills. I think this is particularly useful if you are unsure of where your child is at or if there is no screening in your area before they start kindergarten. It is important that we help equip children with foundational early literacy skills so that we can set them up for possibly future success in school.
This is a picture of a slide in the Nemours webinar I participated in that I found particularly interesting that says "If a child is not reading at grade level by the end of first grade, that child only has a 10% chance of reading at grade level by the end of fourth grade." WOW! That really struck home to me since I have a preschooler and 3rd grader. I go in to volunteer in both of their classrooms and see how some of the third graders are really struggling with reading and if they are struggling with reading they are likely to be struggling with other subjects as well and I see how important it is that I am in volunteering with the preschoolers and reading to them.
Just check out the list (in the green box) that states what other types of negative consequences there may be for children who are struggling with their reading and not reading at grade level. I bet some of you didn't think that problems with reading can result in some of those consequences, which is why it is so IMPORTANT that we encourage early literacy skills in our youth before they enter school and give them foundational skills that they will continue to build upon.
This is a little chart I have seen in an area library and after this webinar I thought it was such an impact to see visually what it looks like to read to your child 20 minutes a day. Imagine how many words will be in your child's vocabulary if you started reading to them at birth. Don't fret over if you didn't start reading to them at birth, just start reading to them now. Check out the Reading Bright Start! website to get ideas for books and learn about early literacy milestones that your child should be reaching.