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Start Reading Early With Your Child

Most people are familiar with the notion that reading to your child regularly is beneficial. But when should you start? Reading comprehension and the ability to follow along do not come until age 4 or 5 (depending on the child), but the value of guided reading can be seen when started at a much earlier age.

According to the American Optometric Association (www.aoa.org), a child’s vision is poor at birth.   Until about 2 months of age, a child can only see about 8-10 inches in front of their face, and can only make out basic shapes.  They prefer faces and begin to focus on familiar faces around 2 months of age.  At 3 months, a child can fixate and track an object in a small range of travel.  These infants are also believed to have some degree of color discrimination.  By 5 months, an infant has emerging and improving depth perception.

This means that at 3 months an infant is able to visually fixate on the colorful pictures of a book and track images as pages turn.  Reading is an excellent way to develop the visual attention and skills needed to explore our visual world. As children read along with their parents, they also spend time visually attending to the book at midline.  This focus on a central field allows for improved organization and body awareness.  Additionally, turning pages helps to establish motor planning and control as well as hand awareness.  This aids in fine motor development.

As the parent reads to his or her infant, the child is learning about the parent’s voice, speech patterns, and establishing a deeper emotional connection to the reader.  Typically, reading has good physical contact with the infant (e.g. in the reader’s lap).  This adds to the emotional connection as well as sensory awareness and familiarity with physical contact.

Reading to a child from the earliest stages of infancy will provide a wealth of positive input.  Social awareness, visual development, motor skills, language development and bonding are all direct benefits of early reading.  Don’t wait until your child can read along with you.  Start the reading process early and spend quality time with your infant reading to them.  The benefits are vast and the quality time is priceless!