February 23, 2018
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The Importance of Early Literacy

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A mom reading to her son while he listens intently to the story

ROCKLAND, Maine – Early literacy is everything a child knows about reading and writing before they can read or write. It is a baby who chews on a book, a toddler who wants to read the same story over and over, or a preschooler who “reads” a story from memory. Literacy is the root of a person’s ability to succeed, according to the National Center for Family Literacy. Learning to read is vital to children’s success in school and early literacy experiences make a difference.

Children are not born with an instinct to read like they are to talk; therefore, reading must be deliberately learned. Many people agree that parents are their child’s first and most important teacher, but what some may not realize is just how much learning happens before formal schooling, like Kindergarten. Learning begins at birth and a child’s brain grows to 90% of their adult size in the first three years of life. This is just one of the many reasons why it is important children are talked to frequently and read to everyday.

Some experts say that children need to be exposed to thousands of written words and listen to words being read in order to prepare themselves for reading. Zero to Three National Center for Infant, Toddlers and Families recommends reading to infants because long before they are readers, they will develop an appreciation for the sound of language. Since early literacy is also a social process, many people can be involved, from older siblings to extended family. This will provide a verbally, word rich environment that supports early literacy and the child will begin to associate reading with pleasure when they share experiences like these.

Maine Families home visiting program of Knox, Lincoln and Sagadahoc Counties strives to give a brand new book to every family at monthly home visits. Trained Parent Educators select developmentally appropriate books for each visit and tie them with a parent/child activity to enrich the child’s learning process and the parent’s knowledge of ways to reinforce concepts. Families are strongly encouraged to enroll in this program prenatally.

For information about Maine Families or the Teen and Young Parent Program, please call 207-594-1980 or toll-free in Maine at 1-877-972-5804.

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