An admired colleague recently offered some very interesting insights about the connection between the physiology of the brain and the development of reading in small children. A respected educator, she also offered a group of parents wonderful insight about encouraging children to love to read.
She first offered a brilliant introduction about the physiology of the brain, describing the areas related to vision and language, which are located in the section of the brain behind the left ear. She made the assertion that until the emergence of written language several thousand years ago, there had never been a natural “connector” between vision and language in the entire biological evolutionary history of man! It is logical, therefore, that in many children, the synapses that control movement between these two areas of the brain may take extra time to develop. Some children, naturally, will learn to read more quickly than others.
She then further described the “decoding” process that occurs when children are learning to read. They will enjoy play-based activities that center around words and associated sounds, then break those sounds down to identify words at their roots, which helps them develop a basic phoenetic base, and naturally leads them to read.
Furthermore, it is important for parents to read in the presence of their children – children will often ask what parents are doing out of curiosity, and parents should proudly declare “I’m reading”, to encourage the activity among their children. Parents should also participate in reading activity with their children, helping children to create mental images of characters and scenes from the stories. As children create mental images from books, they should be encouraged to express those images in their artwork, and should feel satisfied with the expression that they have created.