One of the best ways to understand the neuroscience of early brain and early literacy development is through a sports metaphor. “Serve and Return” refers to the infant’s extraordinary capacity to take turns not only initiating an interaction (Serve) but also responding to a conversation (Return) with the most important people in the infant’s life. (see: http://www.developingchild.harvard.edu).
When babies and parents are interacting, two important things happen: 1) the relationship between baby and parents deepens and bonds and, 2) this bond facilitates the baby’s desire to not only listen for the rhythm and patterns of the language, but to study what word-sounds look like on their parents’ mouths.
Like a diligent student attending to homework, babies are collecting important data from their parents so that the neural pathways for language (and later literacy) among their brain cells form and strengthen.
Bonding, listening and gazing come together to build the social, emotional and language foundation necessary for learning to read and succeed in school.
So give your baby the 3-dimensional world that builds bonding, listening and gazing …. daily reading.
I had the opportunity to reflect on why I wrote my 2013 self-published book, Make Time for Reading – (www.readingfarm.net).
What worked about the final product is that after almost 10 years in development, I was proud of its quality. I did not compromise on book design, (Elizabeth DiPalma, firstname.lastname@example.org), book illustrations (Peter J. Thornton) and book printing (Universal Wilde, Westwood, Mass). All 3 were top-notch choices. I wanted a beautiful book and I got one.
What I appreciate about my book is that I get to leave something behind. My book is my legacy and it is, thus far, my best work in 45 years of working with families and children.
What inspired me to write the book was our daughter’s personal journey toward becoming a reader. Starting in her infancy I had the distinct privilege of leading her on a path filled with songs, rhymes, chants, crayons, markers, stories, books, word games, and libraries. She mastered reading by first grade and read recreationally like her life depended on it all through elementary and middle school. Fast forward to 2015 where she made the Dean’s list her first year at UMass Commonwealth Honors College; no surprise there. Her 6-year journey to reading is chronicled in my book in musical rhymes.
What I am committed to is that all children have the opportunity to learn and love to read. This is clear. So clear that at my eulogy (whenever that happens) ….. this is what I want to be remembered for.
THE JOURNEY TOWARD LITERACY BEGINS AT BIRTH!
OUR CHILDREN ARE NEVER TOO YOUNG … TO HEAR US READ
A WONDERFUL STORY
Matthew is not only a New England Patriots fan but he is enjoying hearing his mother and father talk and read to him every day and often.
At his age, it matters less what is read to him– and more that he hears the rhythms and tones of his parents’ voices. That’s because his brain is listening for the parts and patterns of word sounds so that he can learn to understand and speak the language of the important people around him. And language …. is the path to learning-to-read.
Reading is more rhythmic than talking- especially books that rhyme.
So get to your local library and check out 5-10 baby books that repeat and rhyme the sounds in words. Your baby is listening for them!