When do children begin learning to read? First grade? Kindergarten? Preschool? Earlier? You may be surprised to discover that learning to read begins at birth – or quite possibly, even earlier.
Reading is understanding written language. Written language is based on spoken language. And according to recent research, it is very likely that babies begin to learn spoken language even before they are born.
Approximately 10 weeks before children are born, they begin to hear sounds outside the womb. Remarkably, as early as seven to 75 hours after birth, newborns are able to distinguish between vowel sounds used by their mothers and foreign vowel sounds. The implication is that while they are still in the womb, children’s brains are being wired for language and key aspects of speech.
So as you can see, it is never too early to think of children as budding readers. It is never too early to read to them, talk to them, ask them questions, and teach them about the world around them — because, as you know now, they are listening.