Sunday, January 22, 2012

Helping your child learn to read

We ended last week’s column on a somewhat discouraging note––that the best predictor of a child’s success in learning to read was the mother’s education level and her family’s social-economic status. If you haven’t read last week’s column, you can read it on the previous blog,
Today I will follow through on my promise to you to share other more positive correlations from this research that can make a huge difference for your child.
The researchers learned that the amount and quality of language the babies and toddlers were exposed to correlated strongly with the mothers’ education and socio-economic status. Mothers on welfare spoke about 600 words per hour; mothers in blue color families spoke about 900 words per hour; and mothers in professional families spoke about 1500 words per hour.  Later, at about three years of age, the welfare moms spoke about 900 words, the blue color moms about 1200 words, and the professional moms spoke around 3000 words.
The findings pointed to the amount and quality of language as being the most important factor in the child’s success in learning to read and continued high achievement in school.
Let’s use the analogy of rolling a snowball. Can you picture making a snowball with your mittens? Initially you have very little snow to work with and when you put the snowball on the ground, it picks up only a little snow. You have to work carefully to keep all the snow adhering to the snowball you are creating. However, the larger the snowball becomes, the more snow it picks up as it goes, until it lifts all the snow from the ground all by itself.
Work carefully on your communication with your infant and young child. With your very best effort now, your child will be well prepared for literacy and life. Whether you are a college graduate or a mom struggling to obtain your high school diploma for a better life, you can improve the amount and quality of your communication with your child and make a huge impact upon your child’s ability to learn to read and success in school.

Let’s roll a tiny snowball
Til it gets big and round
Let’s roll it through the snow
It doesn’t make a sound

Give the snowman a head and eyes
A broom for him to hold
A mouth, a nose, and a scarf
So our snowman won’t get cold!

When they are able to, children love to tell you what is still missing from the snowman!

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