In my house I am known as the ‘nerdy aunt’ by my children. For my nieces, nephews and my own children, as birthday and gift giving time approach, I am always looking for educational activities or magazines to gift them rather than another toy. My favorite gift is a monthly subscription to an age appropriate children’s magazine or a couple of books from a series (as I hope they will continue to read the others). My oldest always rolls his eyes at me at says, “what did you get them mom, another book?” My daughter (pictured) has always loved to read. She begs to go to the library and once she is hooked on a series (Junie B Jones, the Geronamo Stilton, Ramona Quimby) she can’t stop until she finishes them all. I can’t say that I am upset either.
In its first policy statement on literacy promotion, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) encourages parents to read to their children beginning in infancy and continuing until at least until they enter kindergarten.
As we grew to realize the importance of brain development in the first 3 years of life and understood the true benefits of reading with young children, the importance of early exposure to reading became evident. In addition, reading together stimulates brain development and strengthens the parent-child relationship. Doctors often describe the ‘young brain’ as having plasticity which means children are especially sensitive to early life experiences.
The AAP has set as a priority, the development of a process with activities to encourage the relationships that build healthy brains and focus on the first 1,000 days of life (essentially first 3 years).
As pediatricians we are encouraged to stress the “5 Rs’ of early education:
- READ together every day with your child.
- RHYME, play and cuddle with your child every day
- Develop ROUTINES around meals, sleep and family fun
- REWARD your child with praise for successes to build self-esteem and promote positive behavior
- Develop a strong and nurturing RELATIONSHIP with your child as the foundation for their healthy development.
Visit local libraries and bookstores and see what programs they have set up year round and especially in the summer. There are book clubs going on all over town.
Early reading experiences foster long-lasting language, learning, and social skills, which many children lack. More than a third of American children enter kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read. Don’t let your child or grandchild be one of them. Go ahead…be the ‘nerdy aunt’, there is NO SHAME in it!
Dr. Abboud is a pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and the mother of three kids. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. Abboud blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Abboud!