Sunday, September 3, 2017

30 million words by age 8

I am writing this piece for all parents with children under the age of seven. Especially those with newborns! According to the Georgia Reading Association children need to hear 30 million words by age 8 or grade 3 and read 90 million words between age 8 and age 14 when they enter into high school in order to improve language development increase literacy and be on the proper reading level all of their lives. Research also shows that instead of increasing the level of literacy electronic forms of reading and listening are actually hindering brain and language development in children. This suggests that human interaction plays a large part in the way children process language. It means reading, language, and understanding are all taking place as children observe and interact with parents, teachers, and other significant adults in their lives.

What this suggests to me as an early childhood educator is just how important it is for children to engage in high-quality child care that encourages literacy through reading, conversation, and adults asking children open-ended questions designed get them to think and to stretch their brains developing neurons. These activities are necessary for children to  develop brain matter to engage in reading and literacy. So what does this mean? Parents need to do three things in order to ensure their child is at the level they need to be especially when it come to third grade reading.

  1. Ensure children are read to on a regular basis. This means starting at birth at least two books a week to preferably 5. Parents don't need to do this all by themselves, let your village help you friends, grandparents, a librarian, take your kids to story time, take them to hear poetry readings, taking them to see plays and puppet shows, things that are fun for the entire family. 
  2. Choose your child care wisely! If your child's in a high-quality center that focuses on social emotional and literacy development then the teachers and the folks in that center will support your goal of 30 million words for your children by age 8.
  3. Eliminate screen time down to No More Than 3 hours a week. This includes LeapFrog, cartoons, children's movies, and all other forms of electronic media.
I realize this is demanding, but it can be done. Remember, the key to getting this done is to use the resources available in your village! Do you remember the old campaign Reading is Fundamental. Here is proof of that being the exact case for  language, literacy, and improving 3rd grade reading scores. You can do this!

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