Karen W. Ponder: Reading foundations

November 19, 2013 

Your recent articles about low reading scores in Halifax County (Nov. 15 news story) were a reminder of the challenges when children reach third grade and are unable to read.

Brain research demonstrates that early language development, the foundation for reading, begins as soon as children are born and experience positive engagement with their families. The direct correlation between the number of words children hear and their ability to read proves that the words that children hear matter a lot. Being nurtured, read to and verbally engaged in a “serve and return” manner are foundational to reading and literacy.

Science delineates approaches that enhance development of early literacy, and these are central to early education, especially for at-risk children. Families are the most vital teachers, yet not all have the knowledge, time and resources to make the critical difference. North Carolina made an early, focused investment in early education as Susan Perry-Manning described in her Nov. 15 Point of View “For a profitable education – invest in early programs” but stopped short of the goal.

Imagine the cost savings if we got this part of education right and didn’t have to spend years attempting to repair an inadequate education.

Karen W. Ponder

Raleigh

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