The American Academy of Pediatrics Writes a Prescription for Early Literacy
Early Child Literacy - Gains Recognition From American Academy of Pediatrics
For the first time the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued recommendations on the importance of early child literacy
these recommendations are welcome, of course, very welcome but long overdue.
Learning begins at birth (or earlier), and that is when it is vital to begin offering intelligent and appropriate stimulation and opportunity. During this time, learning is effortless – the baby can learn absolutely anything that we can provide in an honest, factual, and joyous way.
Mothers and fathers the world over have been reading with their children for as long as there have been mothers and fathers and books to read–parents invented this. It is very gratifying to have pediatricians validate the honest efforts of mothers and fathers who are doing what they know intuitively is good for their child.
For more than a half-century, The Institutes has been teaching parents that reading is the single most powerful and enjoyable way to increase the intellectual might of the tiny child. For fifty years our mothers have been following that advice and teaching their babies to read by reading to them and offering them the gift of literacy - early child literacy cannot be underestimated.
Early Child Literacy - Parents Know Intuitively
Many, many parents read to their children daily. All parents need more time with their children and the tools to encourage literacy–a little “know-how” and books to read to their children.
This is not rocket science. Introducing reading is easy and fun. Mothers in low-income households could easily be supplied with instructions, books, and reading cards to label their households. This would cost very little and it would make a life-changing difference for the young child.
All children should have the opportunity to learn to read well before they go to school, like our grandparents and great-grandparents did. My own father was reading at a fourth-grade level when he went to school at age five–90 years ago! He was raised in a humble row house by working-class parents whose own educations were modest and who had little or no money to spend.
Today it is common to give a smart phone or tablet to a young child to “play with.” The software programs designed for children are, for the most part, very primitive stimulus-response traps that ensnare the innocent child. The precious time that a tiny child would normally use in search and discovery is usurped and squandered. It is “junk food” for the intellect of the young child who is, by nature, a linguistic genius. While the young child should be mastering an entire language, he is popping virtual balloons and learning almost nothing - it must be reiterated that early child literacy must be emphasized.
In our experience there is nothing in the world that a child loves as much as that first book, especially when the child can read that book himself! A recent study showed that when children are given the choice of an e-book or a real book they choose the real book every time. We should not be surprised–most people feel that way.
Parents around the world can now rejoice. Now when they tell their pediatrician “I am reading to my baby every day and my baby is learning to read!” there is a chance that their pediatrician will greet the good news with encouragement and enthusiasm. Let’s hope so.
The AAP wants to “immunize our children against illiteracy.” Yes, we must do that–and do it early, at home, and in the loving arms of parents. But we can do better than that–we can make our children “school-proof” and while we are at it we can immunize them against stupidity.
We could make the world a much, much better place.