Earning FREE Stuff for Summer Reading? It starts in the very young…
by Mary Jane Estrada-Lyder, on July 8
There are so many incentives for kids to read during the summer, other than just for pure pleasure and joy. Book stores, libraries, and banks have great Summer Programs that give kids free prizes, books or money for reading. While there are some kids who could spend the whole summer with their nose in a book, like my 12-year-old, there are others who are not as avid readers. How do you build a love for reading in your young one? How do you even get started? There are so many incentives for kids to read during the summer, other than just for pure pleasure and joy. Book stores, libraries, and banks have great Summer Programs that give kids free prizes, books or money for reading. While there are some kids who could spend the whole summer with their nose in a book, like my 12-year-old, there are others who are not as avid readers. How do you build a love for reading in your young one? How do you even get started?
Over 12 years ago, I began to read to my first, not yet born child, in the womb. Every night, I would read to my belly, knowing, that my baby could hear my voice. At 4-5 weeks, cells in the embryo start to form into the baby’s brain, face, nose, ears, and eyes. By 18 months, a baby will start to hear their first sounds. I also played classical music in the car so that he was hearing stories and classical music.
After he was born, I continued to read to him and with him every night and every chance I had. The interaction of reading to and with your baby not only creates memories but it also creates millions of neural connections that speeds up the process of learning new words and also helps babies to connect objects with words.
I hope that it was my early nurturing with sounds that fostered his love for reading and learning. As first-time parents, we wanted to expose our baby to every opportunity to learn...learn to read, learn languages, learn music, learn sports… Contrary to popular belief that screen time is “bad” for your child’s brain development, we not only read to our baby but we also exposed him to reading programs such as Baby Einstein and Sesame Street. We also took advantage of what Cable TV had to offer for free language programs, so that by 2 years old, he was exposed to Russian, German, Italian, Swedish, Japanese and Mandarin. I knew a little Tagalog and so he was exposed to that as well. Unfortunately, my parents never taught us Tagalog when they moved here from the Philippines as they came from the school of thought that you will be more successful if you learn English, rather than continue to speak the native tongue. My parents did not realize at the time the advantage of learning and using more than one language, and had no concept of the window of opportunity for learning a language.
While watching these learning programs on tv, there was a commercial advertising a different kind of reading program. This was a program for parents and caregivers using word videos, sliding word cards and lift-the-flap-books to teach their babies to read. It was amazing! We’d see babies as young as a few months old, pointing to their nose when they saw the word “nose” or pointing to their foot when they read the word “foot” and so forth. It really was amazing! We were thinking, “ WE can do this, can’t we?”
So there it is. We decided to go for it. What could it hurt, and more importantly, how could it help? Even if our son didn’t start to read as advertised, he at least was creating a million neural connections to help him learn in the years to come.
My last Instagram post was about being in your child’s life today in order to be in their memories tomorrow. I think some of us would wish that we could learn through osmosis; put a book next to our temple and voila! Now you know and have learned everything that is in that book. Well, life is not that easy. We actually have to put some effort in to make some gains. Same thing with Your Baby Can Learn. If you put in effort and time for your child, you get an unbelievable return.
Not only did I continue to read books to my son, but I started to go through this program with the videos and word cards and lift-the-flap books. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight, but my son started to make the connections with the words and the objects. It was pretty cool .
As the infant researcher, Dr. Titzer said, if you do nothing else, at least teach your child to read by the age of 4 because it will be a lot easier to take the time to teach your child at 0-4 years old, than it will be to help your child later in life, and boy was he right. Infants have more neuroplasticity than 3-year-olds and a 3-year-old has more neuroplasticity than a 5-year-old. This means it is easier to make changes in younger infants’ brains than it is in older children’s brains.
Not all kids learn the same or on the same timeline. We repeated this all with my second son. It took a longer time to see him make the connections, but he did! It helped him in the next few years and it only continues to help. This is all the more reason to get your child to learn early. Since about 90% of brain development occurs by age 5, what a child is taught in the first years of life has a lasting impact on that child.
When our oldest was 4 years old, my husband registered him in a reading program offered at Boston University. Guess what, at 4 years old, after the first class, he was able to excel to a more advanced class offered at another college. This 4-year-old kid started to read and could not put down books. In pre-k, my husband would take the time to sit with him at daycare, and go through his reading books at least once, sometimes twice every morning, and would you know it?! The other kids flocked over and wanted to learn! “HELLOOOO!” Why wouldn’t they all want to know how to read?!
I remember, in pre-K, wanting to learn to read. My younger sister by 16 months, went to Montessori and was already learning HOW to read. I was jealous! But WHY can’t all kids start to learn to read BEFORE pre-K. They can! Most people just don't know this!
As we shared in “Our Story”, we were new parents, we researched what we thought were the best ways for our kids and we wanted to share them with you. It feels great to be able to share accomplishments such as when our oldest was in Kindergarten, he received a certificate for reading 100 books in the first 100 days of school. So 12 years now in the making, we can finally share these life-changing strategies that we learned about for our own kids.
As I said, we started out using the whole kit of videos, Word cards, and lift-the-flap books. By the time our oldest was in 3rd grade, he was reading at a 10th-grade reading level. He is now entering 7th grade and was placed in 8th grade advanced math, although we never focused on math. He was also accepted into Boston Latin School. My younger son is right at the heels of his big brother, and a star athlete himself. Everything we had exposed them to in their early years has been invaluable to their success. We want to share everything we’ve learned, what we used, the products we researched … all on TheBestForMyKid.com. Kids do not have to wait to learn to read until they are 6. They can start as early as you want.