A lifelong lover of reading, fate and a move to Pennsylvania finally handed Marian the opportunity to go back to college to obtain a Master's degree in reading.... Her employer paid the full cost. As a result, she was a Reading Specialist in both private and public schools, teaching grades K through 12 until her retirement in 2007.
Marian helped develop an elementary reading summer school as well as an after school program for children with reading difficulties. For over 10 years, she served on the Pennsylvania Reading Assessment Advisory Committee helping to align the state assessment to the PA reading standards, developing assessment items, establishing benchmarks, and training teachers across the state.
Now an Arizona retiree, Marian continues her love of reading by supporting her local library. She has served on the local library board for the past 4 years.
I'm sure parents hear many times that good parenting includes providing many meaningful experiences for their children. Just what does that entail? Simple conversation, reading, and singing to and with your young child is a good start. You can provide an atmosphere of learning in your own home.
Simple conversation means speaking and listening with your child. I know it's tempting, but keep baby talk to a minimum. Your child is learning new vocabulary every day, so you need to help provide that by speaking in full sentences around him and providing good feedback. For example, you are having breakfast when your baby says something like "jis"! You can reinforce this first attempt by asking, "Would you like some juice?" You are not only listening well to your child and providing feedback, but you are also modeling speaking in sentences. Good literacy begins with speech. The more you talk with and read to your child, the stronger their vocabulary.
Reading to your child at an early age is key. How early? I've seen mothers reading to their baby while still in the womb! I won't quote statistics here, but you should read to your baby, the sooner the better. For babies, small washable picture books that they can handle and chew on is great. With picture books, talk about each picture. Later, as more words are on the page, include conversations with your child about the story and pictures. Make reading time an important and pleasant part of his day.
Because children will gradually want to choose their books, try to provide many choices. This is when the library can be helpful. Your local library and librarian is a wonderful resource for you and your child. Think about the many choices of books offered. Your librarian can also make good suggestions. Who better to know what books children are drawn to? When the child is old enough, the library also offers many different age appropriate programs.
Music is also a great way to promote strong vocabulary. Sing to your baby. You don't sing? Your baby won't care. Besides, there are wonderful CDs out there just for babies and young children. According to Children's Music Workshop, "Recent studies have clearly indicated that music training physically develops the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language and can actually wire the brain circuits in specific ways. Linking familiar songs to new information can also help imprint information on young minds." Adding finger play and movement can make music time a really fun part of his day.
Most important... You are a significant role model. Turn off the electronic devices. Let your child see you reading. Surround yourself with books, magazines, and newspapers. If your child sees that you value reading, he will also value reading. You are providing that important atmosphere of learning for your child.