Speaking Influences Reading

I just read a great article by Justin Milner on the Urban Institute’s Metro Trends Blog. In Building Momentum to Bridge the Word Gap, Justin echoes what we have been preaching to Memphis for some time: How you speak to your child has a lot to do with how well they will speak and, in turn, how well they will read.

Children begin to learn language the day they are born. Their cries, coos and babbles are all beginning attempts at language. Newborns have the ability to distinguish sounds, and their language continues to dramatically develop during their first three years.

This language development lays the foundation for learning to read when helped along by parents and caregivers. As an adult reads to a child, the child learns that the sounds she knows are represented by the symbols on the page. The more you read to her, the more she learns expressive language, and the closer she gets to reading on her own.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its standards to recommend that pediatricians instruct parents to begin reading to their child very soon after birth. How long should you read? The short answer is “As much as you can” but most experts say at least 30 minutes each day for the first 3 years and increase the time as they grow older until they are reading well on their own.

It’s further support for our message that The First Years Last a Lifetime.