Research indicates that the ability to read by third grade is a key determinant of future success in school and in life. Scientists at Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child assert that early experiences determine whether a child’s developing brain architecture provides a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health.
In Connecticut, the achievement gap is fully evident by age five, and many children are at high risk of not reaching reading proficiency by third grade. There is growing awareness that literacy starts at birth, not when a child enters school. Nor does learning for literacy happen only through a child’s interaction with teachers. Rather, a child’s learning begins at birth and encompasses relationships with parents, other children, school personnel, and community members.
According to the Connecticut Commission on Children, before entering formal education, children need more than 1,000 hours of experience with books, which includes seeing others read books, understanding how to handle books, and being read to by an adult. It is also important that young children are engaged in conversation, storytelling and singing.