Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The 6 Stages of Reading Development and Why you should Read to your Baby

Sharing my latest article published today at Smart Parenting Online.  This is something I'm very happy to share because I'm sure many parents need these information.  I learned a lot from what I have read about early literacy that's why I was inspired to write this article.  I also found out through my research that my eldest son is now in levels 2 and 3.  He is gaining fluency in some words while learning to decode words that are not very familiar to him.  My youngest is also a growing bookworm. :) He now pretends to read on his own and he has learned to turn book pages.  But he needs to stick to board books still because he still rips the pages of our other books that he gets his hands on.  But I'm one happy mom because I see that my kids love books, reading and learning!  And reading is one of our favorite bonding moments.


Did you know that ninety percent of a child’s brain is already developed by the time he turns three years old? Did you also know that the brain’s greatest growth spurt draws to a close around the age of ten, according to neuroscientists?

Experts say that fifty percent of our ability to learn is developed in our first four years of life, another thirty percent by the age of eight, and the remaining twenty percent by the age of 18. Everything we learn later grows from the patterns established during these years. They also say that the first three years in a child’s life is the period where the brain grows most rapidly, during which there are specific sensitive periods for optimal learning in particular areas. Moreover, studies confirm that the first five years in a child’s life creates a lasting impression on the child, thus the learning environment and early experiences of babies and toddlers are extremely important.

How the brain works

Our brain’s development is experience-dependent. This means that our brain develops when we use it and when it gets stimulated by our experiences. Most of our neurons are already developed at birth, but these are not yet connected in networks. Brain development happens when connections are formed and reinforced.

Neuroscientists discovered that repetitive observation of actions (either passive or active, with the intention of reproducing the action) increases brain activity and can result in experience-dependent changes. A child therefore develops the ability to understand the actions of others and imitate them through this process called mirror neuron system. Connections that are used repeatedly and often become permanent, while those that have little stimulation do not develop, thus, learning does not occur. Experience that is repetitive, patterned and consistent will be represented by strong neural connections.

Studies have shown that children who were not touched or held often, spoken to, and given ample opportunities to explore had brains 20-30 percent smaller than most children their age. Thus, it is important that parents provide both a nurturing and stimulating environment to their children starting from birth. This, together with good nutrition (pre- and post-natal) and experiences that provide opportunities for learning, is essential for optimal brain development and function, according to experts. Moreover, studies show that the impact of early childhood experiences is greater than the influence of heredity.

In line with these findings is the recommendation to read aloud regularly to young children. D. Reid Lyon, Ph. D. of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development says, “The most important thing that parents can do is talk and read to their children.” This practice can help children develop positive associations and feelings towards books, reading and learning. It also exposes the child to more words which are not usually part of daily conversations. Through regular book reading, young children hear new words regularly, thus expanding their vocabulary. Children who are read to regularly learn to talk at an earlier age and learn to say, read, and use new words faster.

More benefits of reading to young children:
• Helps form strong bonds between parents and children.
• Teaches kids to read, one of the most important skills they need to learn in life.
• Teaches them the correct pronunciation of words, especially those which they are not familiar with.
• Helps develop their listening skills and increases their attention span.
• Prepares them for school.
• They grow up having a love for reading and learning.
• Stimulates their imagination and natural curiosity and expands their world.
• Significantly increases their chances of experiencing academic success.

A child learns to speak by listening to the people around him talk to him and to each other. A child learns by imitating the sounds and words used by the people in his environment. Talking/conversing with children and reading regularly to them in the context of nurturing relationships increases the words they recognize and learn. This is fundamental in language development and literacy, as well as for cognitive and emotional development. A child’s early experiences shape his language and literacy capability. There is strong evidence that talking and reading in early childhood has a significant effect on language skills at later stages of development.

Jeanne Chall, an expert on reading development, identified these six stages in reading development:

1. Prereading: Birth to kindergarten
Parents "read" to infants and toddlers by pointing to and naming objects and colors in books and reading simple stories. Kids pretend to read by turning the pages of the book, reciting memorized stories or creating their own by looking at the pictures.

2. Reading/Decoding: Grades 1 to 2
At this stage, children learn to associate letters with their corresponding sounds. Using phonics, children sound out letters, decoding the word that is formed when they run the sounds together. With the whole word method, children recognize words based on context, pictures, and the shape of the word.

3. Fluency: Grades 2 to 3 Children become more fluent in recognizing or decoding words at this stage. Rereading familiar books and reading stories with familiar or stereotyped structures help children gain speed, fluency, and confidence in their reading ability.

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  1. Thanks for sharing ood and helpful article with us. I really have enjoyed all of this very cool information.
    Baby brain development stages

    1. You're welcome. Happy to help through my blog.