Simple Ideas with Profound Impact
Creating a Need
In our previous scientific blog, “Where There Is a Need, There Is a Facility”, we talked about the importance of this third law of brain development. It’s an important law to pay attention to so as not to delay or interfere with the development of motor function in our children. It’s ultra simple. Take away the need for children to use motor functions and we deny them the opportunity to develop those functions.
Here are some easy to understand examples – if we carry a child all the time we deny the child the opportunity to learn to move, if we (or others) speak for the child we deny the child the opportunity to speak, if we always open things, button buttons, tie shoes etc. we deny the child the opportunity to learn to use his hands. Seems pretty obvious, right? Yet, you’d be amazed how many times we parents do things that deny our children the opportunity to develop just because we are not paying attention to our actions! So, first, be aware. Be mindful! The more opportunity (need) we give to a child, the better.
Today, I want to shine a spotlight on a function that this law applies to that is not so obvious, reading. That’s right, reading! Let’s look at why it’s important, how to create the need for your child to learn to read, and how to make sure she becomes a successful and happy reader!
We start with the fact that reading is a neurological function. That’s right. Reading is an ability that all human beings have the potential to develop because we all have a human brain. Along with understanding, speaking, and writing it is an aspect of our language ability, the sophisticated ability that we human beings developed in order to share our thoughts and experiences with each other.
In a pre-Stone Age culture, hunting and foraging for food are the most important survival skills that children need to develop. Most of the truly pre-Stone Age cultures in the world (sadly, there are not many left) have no abstract thinking and, therefore, no abstract language. Knowledge and tradition is transmitted orally from one generation to the next.
In our culture, the ability to read is the most important survival skill. It is not possible to be completely independent if one cannot read and those who read poorly face many problems as a result. For our children, the consequences of not learning to read are just as devastating as not learning to hunt and forage would be for a pre-Stone Age child.
So, how do you provide your child with the need to learn to read? How do you make learning to read fun? What are the first steps to make sure your child continues to be an enthusiastic learner and a good reader? In a future post we will give you specific step by step instruction on teaching a child to read. Here we just want you to begin creating the need and the love for reading. This is, in fact, the most important step! Here are some tips on how you can begin to introduce reading to your child without pressure.
- Read to your child starting from birth. Read to your child regularly. Read to your child frequently. Remember to keep the duration short.
- Read to your child with enthusiasm. Your enthusiasm when reading to your child is the beginning of them wanting to learn to read.
- Make sure you provide your child with lots of opportunity to develop good brain organization. A well developed and well organized brain is the first key to successful learning, especially learning how to read. For more information on how to develop a well organized brain see our free email course and previous blog post on Kickstarting Mobility.
- Provide your child with plenty of opportunity to converse. Ask her questions that are interesting. Ask not to “test” her, but to encourage her curiosity and to let her know that you care about her opinions and her feelings. Answer her questions no matter how simple or how sophisticated they are.
- Show her how enthusiastic YOU are to learn new things. Make learning together part of your “together” activities!
- Write little notes using big print in red ink and give them to your child. You can place the notes on their toys, in a snack box, by her meals, on her bed, and so on. Write one word per card. Keep the notes simple. For example, you can write the following words, one per card – LOVE, YOU, ROCK, SMILE. Read the word to your child. Do it frequently and she will begin to recognize the word and will become interested in learning other words. You will be creating/developing her need to read. As she learns the words LOVE and YOU you can combine them into couplets – LOVE YOU. Later you can teach MOM, DAD, SISTER and then combine them to form MOM LOVES YOU, DAD LOVES YOU, SISTER LOVES YOU, and so on.
- Read her favorite books over and over again. She will most likely memorize them and will begin to pretend that she is reading them. That’s wonderful! Compliment her when she does this and let her recite the book to you whenever she wishes.
Why is encouraging reading from an early age important? Because learning to understand written language is no different than learning to understand spoken language. It is a matter of opportunity. Little children want to do everything that their parents can do and reading is no different.
Again, when it comes to learning to read as well as all other learning, there should be no pressure and no testing! This experience should be just plain enthusiasm, celebration, and fun. I can not stress this enough! If your child learns to read and loves it, he or she will be an enthusiastic reader for life. In contrast, if your child feels pressured or judged when learning he or she will learn just to please you or “the teacher”, and he or she will only read when asked or forced to do so.
So, creating a need must not equal pressure. It means to demonstrate to your child just how much fun it is to understand written language in much the same way that they understand spoken language. It is an avenue to more growth and freedom for your child. Then get ready for the pure joy that comes with that. It is so much fun to see a young child realizing that he or she can read. First a word, then a couplet, a sentence and finally a paragraph! Begin by reading to your child and stay tuned for what follows!