Every Father’s Day provides an opportunity to reflect on the kind of father we are and the kind of father we want to be. One pledge I am making to myself and my children, and I challenge other fathers to make, is reading with their children daily.
Less than half of pre-kindergarten children are read to daily, despite the fact that we know the greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five. By age three, 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed.
Unfortunately, the majority of our attention and financial investments are made in the traditional education years of K-12. Until that changes, it’s necessary for all parents to participate in reading with our children and advocate greater investments in early learning. One key to a successful academic career starts with a strong foundation prior to kindergarten.
Pre-kindergarten children who are read to have a much larger vocabulary, better recognition of sentence structure, and greater ability to identify letters and numbers entering school. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who read 20 minutes a day at home are likely to score better than 90% of their peers; reading five minutes a day is likely to help them score better than 50%; and reading one minute a day is likely to help them to score better than 10% of their fellow students.
In our community, one out of two children is not prepared academically to enter kindergarten. If we are to reduce poverty, improve education and increase economic opportunities in our community, we need to be advocates for early learning and play active roles in reading with our children beginning at birth.
The effect of daily reading and early education programs does not end at kindergarten; it resonates for a lifetime. Adults who had some form of pre-kindergarten learning and education earn up to 25% higher incomes. Adults who had pre-kindergarten learning were three times more likely to own a home by the age of 27. Children who had pre-kindergarten education were 50% less likely to receive welfare as an adult and over two times less likely to be arrested.
Early learning has an influence on more than academic and financial success. There are few greater joys in life than reading together as a family, creating memories and building stronger family relationships. You will never forget the giggles as you flip through picture books, the joking about reading Dr. Seuss for the 100th time or the sound of your child reading aloud to themselves. Reading together is a family activity that helps build stronger relationships and the foundation for success. These memories are priceless.
This Father’s Day, make a daily reading pledge to yourself and your child. Together we can build the foundation for successful families and communities one book at a time.