There is an easy way to improve your child's chances at school. It will entertain and delight them. It will strengthen the bonds between them and you. And it is virtually free. Sound too good to be true? Actually, it isn't. The magical method: taking time to read aloud to your child.
In an era of high-stakes testing and education reforms and revolutions, research has repeatedly proved that one simple parenting technique is among the most effective. Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared.
"Reading aloud to young children, particularly in an engaging manner, promotes emerging literacy and language development and supports the relationship between child and parent," concludes a review in this month's Archives of Disease in Childhood.
In other words, reading that bedtime story may not only entertain and soothe Johnny, it may also develop his vocabulary, improve his ability to learn to read, and - perhaps most important - foster a lifelong love of books and reading.
Developing that passion for reading is crucial, according to Jim Trelease, author of the best-seller, "The Read-Aloud Handbook." "Every time we read to a child, we're sending a 'pleasure' message to the child's brain," he writes in the "Handbook." "You could even call it a commercial, conditioning the child to associate books and print with pleasure."
This reading "commercial" is critical when competition for a child's attention is so fierce. Between television, movies, the Internet, video games and myriad after-school activities, the pleasures of sitting down with a book are often overlooked. In addition, negative experiences with reading - whether frustrations in learning to read or tedio
That can have long-term consequences. As Mr. Trelease succinctly puts it in his handbook, "Students who read the most, read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest. Conversely, those who don't read much, cannot get better at it."
Reading aloud is, according to the landmark 1985 report "Becoming a Nation of Readers," "the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading."
Despite this advice, however, some educators and many parents don't read aloud to children from a young age and thus fail to nurture avid and skilled readers. Indeed, this is especially true for children in low-income families. According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, only 48 percent of families below the poverty level read to their preschoolers each day, compared with 64 percent of families whose incomes were at or above the poverty level. Children from low-income families are also less likely to have exposure to print materials.
Groups such as Reach Out and Read (ROR), however, are working to combat this problem. The Boston-based non-profit extols the virtues of reading aloud to parents when children go to their check-ups at the pediatrician's or family physician's office. The group also helps provide reading materials for families of lesser means. And ROR has been remarkably successful: "Studies which examined language in young children found an association between the ROR intervention and statistically significant improvements in preschool language scores, a good predictor of later literacy success," its website reports.
The good news for families is that this sage piece of parenting wisdom is
easy to follow. Reading aloud to your child requires only a book - free, with a library card - and your willingness to spend a little quality time with your child. And while the sacrifices to read aloud are few, the benefits are many: Your child may learn to read better, think better, imagine more richly, and become a passionate and lifelong reader. More than these long-term benefits, however, are some more immediate: The pleasures of spending time with your child and sharing the enjoyment of a good book.
Thank you to the Read Aloud nonprofit for sharing this valuable article!
And... a great way to make reading to your young child even easier: get a free book in the mail EVERY month up until their fifth birthday - click HERE to learn all about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library!!
Dad and Me Every Month!
Celebrate being a dad (or uncle, or grandpa...) every month at our Dad and Me outings, held at fun venues around the county on the fourth Saturday from 10:00am-12:00pm.
This month Celebrate Spring with a visit to the Ridge Road Garden Center. Spend a fun morning outdoors learning how to care for plants, plant your very own flower or vegetable plant to take home, and enjoy story time, snacks, and bring home a free book. Click here for the flyer with all of the information. And call 257-1092 to reserve your spot!
When It's More Than the Blues
We are excited to share with you a new radio series on Maternal Wellness presented by the Amador - Calaveras Perinatal Wellness Coalition.
On the first Wednesday of every month tune into KVGC Radio 96.5FM - 1340 AM for interviews and discussion about becoming a new parent and welcoming a baby into your life.
Sometimes being a new parent can be more of a struggle than one would have expected. This show will give valuable insight and information to cope with the many responsibilities and sometimes difficult emotions of becoming a new parent.
All episodes will be available on First 5 Amador's website, as well as here on our Facebook page, as they broadcast. Click the link HERE for episode number 1!
QUICK TIPS of the MONTH
Rethink Your Drink
Hello, I am Potter the Otter. I love to drink water and I want you to love to drink water too!
Did you know? The average 4-5 year old child consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day - which amount to 65 pounds of added sugar a year. The majority of a children's add sugar intake comes from fruit juices, high-fat desserts, soft drinks and candy.
Check the label and remember the number 4!
Figure out how much sugar is in a drink or food can be tricky.
Here's a tip: Grams of sugar ÷ 4 = Teaspoons of Sugar
For example: for a 20 ounce soda: 69g of sugar ÷ 4 = 17 teaspoons of sugar
Here are Potter the Otter's Tips for Healthy Kids:
Serve water and skim milk during meal and snack time
Reward children with non-food items
Limiting 100% juice to 4-6 ounces per day
Instead of artificially sweetened drinks, Potter the Otter encourages you to drink water. And we have found some great ways to make water lots of fun! Fresh fruit infused waters are easy to make. Slice up some fruit, veggies, or herbs & place them in a pitcher, add cold water, and chill for a few hours. Pour over ice, garnish with a piece of fruit and
enjoy. Some fruits you might want to try alone or in combination with other fruits:
Over 800 Amador kids and counting! Get free books for your children! Sign your child up today and start receiving one free book every month from the Imagination Library! This is a free program, available to all Amador County children aged 0-4 (from birth until their 5th birthday).