The Literacy Connection

teagan-readingDid you know that 90% of children’s critical brain development occurs by the age of five!

Right from birth a child’s brain begins forming connections rapidly. These connections form the foundation for all of the learning he or she will do later in life.  Studies show that babies and young children who are read to and sung to on a regular basis develop bigger vocabularies and become better readers later in life.

Reading books to children, telling stories, acting out finger plays and singing songs are all crucial in the early years for healthy brain development.  Allowing young children to  become familiar with books, magazines and other print materials also helps to stimulate the brain.

Board books are great for helping toddlers to develop a love for reading. That is because the books are sturdy enough to be used and abused and read over and over again. When my children were young they would carry around their favourite board books until they were practically falling apart. I usually keep a basket of board books in my preschool classrooms as well.  This way the children can use these books in all sorts of play without worrying whether or not they will rip up. Playing house or school is always fun with a book in hand. I love to see my preschoolers pretend to read to one another. They don’t realize it but by engaging in this activity they are building up their dendrites for healthy brain growth.

Another fun activity for young children is to give them old magazines. If they are old enough to use scissors they can cut out pictures, letters and words and glue them onto construction paper for a collage. Younger children might enjoy tearing the pages out or just looking at the pictures like mom or dad.  Having the tangible item to hold, touch and see helps to stimulate the brain.

In the age of technology one might ask, “What about  tablets and e-readers, etc?”  Yes, computers and e-readers are also another way for children to become excited about reading. However I would use this in moderation.  Without the actual physical interaction one loses part of the necessary steps in healthy brain development for the young mind. The computer should never replace the actual interaction between a child and his or her caregiver. Hearing a story read out loud also aids in oral skills and helps to develop a higher vocabulary in young children.

So keep reading and singing aloud to your child. And remember that by allowing young children to hold, touch and feel books you are helping to stimulate healthy brain growth!

Thank you to our adorable model Teagan and to mom Jodi for submitting this cute photo!