One of the earliest indicators of a child’s future success is the number of words he or she hears prior to kindergarten. The Post-Gazette editorial (“Books for Babies,” July 7) makes clear the value of reading to our children. Also important to language development is the frequency and richness of natural conversation in a child’s first years. The interplay of words between the parent and child, through both reading and conversation, helps nurture vocabulary.
An at-risk 5-year-old who lacks these early interactions often enters kindergarten with an 18-month vocabulary gap. As the child ages, the gap widens, and the child risks falling so far behind that it is difficult to catch up with his or her peers.
What could be more fun than engaging a young child in conversation? For the parents or caregivers, it means taking time to talk, read, sing and play with children from birth. These dynamic exchanges lead to enhanced brain, social and emotional development and a great vocabulary.
We can further bolster vocabulary development by complementing parents’ efforts through investments in early childhood education. It is one of the best things Pennsylvania can do to improve education, health and economic outcomes. As an advocate for high-quality early childhood education over the past 10 years, we at the PNC Foundation understand the benefits it provides at-risk children and their families. When children experience a holistic environment supporting their learning at home and at school, they are more likely to graduate and do well over time.
EVA TANSKY BLUM
Chair and President
The writer is executive director, PNC Grow Up Great, a $350 million, multiyear initiative in early childhood education.