Teaching Baby to Read
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Baby's Physical Development
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Isn't Learning to Read Supposed to be Difficult?
The idea of babies learning to read as effortlessly as they learn to speak sounds too good to be true to many people.
In any case, some in the field of early childhood development believe reading requires too much brain power for a small child, as Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust And The Squid: The Story And Science Of The Reading Brain, explains:
Reading depends on the brain's ability to connect and integrate various sources of information - specifically, visual with auditory, linguistic and conceptual areas. This integration depends on the maturation of each of the individual regions, their association areas, and the speed with which these regions can be connected and integrated.
That speed, in turn, depends a great deal on the myelination of the neuron's axons… The more myelin sheathes the axon, the faster the neuron can conduct its charge.
Although each of the sensory and motor regions is myelinated and functions independently before a person is five years of age, the principal regions of the brain that underlie our ability to integrate visual, verbal and auditory information rapidly are not fully myelinated in most humans until five years of age and after.
The fact is that, for as long as children have been learning to read, there have been children who have learned to read "early." Skeptics and critics of early reading have taken these instances to be exceptions - cases of special genius above and beyond the usual genius of childhood. Support for this view seems to come from the fact that early readers are more likely to mature into accomplished adults. But, asks Kailing, what if we have been viewing this relationship - between early reading success and above-average achievement in later life - in reverse?
While you don't need to be an unusual genius to read before three, I believe that being a native reader might make you more likely to become a genius. Because native readers gain language fluency earlier, more deeply, and in its written form - and because literacy is a fundamental tool for further intellectual growth - it's a fairly straightforward consequence that native reading will generally help a child use the skill of reading to learn many important and interesting things. And, like language itself, native readers will tend to learn these things, which reading makes accessible, earlier and more deeply, too.
From speaking to reading... a giant leap?