"American Reads Challenge" On the Road to Reading
This text was taken from a summary by Derry Kolralek and Ray Collins for â€śAmerica Reads Challengeâ€? On the Road to Reading: A Guide for Community Partners.
Before we can understand a childâ€™s development of literary skills, we must first understand the development of the human brain. The whole process starts at birth when a baby has 100 billion neurons. This number will not grow. In order for the neurons to be of any use, they must first connect into networks. These connections are formed when a babyâ€™s mind is stimulated. Stimulation can come in the form of communication, stroking, or any other human to human interaction that they incur, as well as additional experiences such as those involving smell, feel, taste, etc. Upon stimulations the connections are produced. Trillions more connections than can be used are produced and later in life, usually starting at the age of 10, the extra connections are terminated and the mind starts to focus on efficiency and consistency. The connections that are used repeatedly are maintained and the unused connections are lost. This is where involvement is crucial to child development, and for this discussion we will focus on the comprehension of reading and writing skills. The more stimulation a child receives, the more â€śspaceâ€? they have to store knowledge. Alternate forms of stimulation also include watching adults read books, newspapers, and magazines. Witnessing an adult write whether it be drafting a document, balancing a checkbook, or filling out a crossword puzzle can also create curiosity. These two skills, reading and writing, develop together, along with many others. They can be seen at the earliest stages when a child starts to scribble. In the next stage they realize that they can use their motor skills to control their drawing. Shortly after a child starts to recognize meaning in their drawings, and this is where writing and reading connect. A child starts to recognize symbols, pictures, and letters in other forms of written work and they begin to read. All of this has potential to happen, but only for the window of opportunity before their brain begins to sustain information and then begins to concentrate on topics. Without the necessary stimulation at a young age a child may not reach their full potential within the allotted time, hence, parental involvement along with the interaction of others is crucial to a childâ€™s development.
Now that there is basic background information established, we must apply the reading to the course, which of course is urban literacy. I personally did not grow up in a bustling urban setting, but one point weâ€™ve come to is that sometimes, but not always, in urban settings we lose some of the stimulation that we sometimes get in a smaller community. When you are a young child, stimulation from anyone promotes development of brain cells. Often this stimulation comes from parents or other primary care givers. What if the parent of a child has to work two or even three jobs to support their family? Does the child always get enough stimulation from their care provider? What about when a child starts pre-school. In an urban setting where there are more children, can we always give each child the small group setting they need and deserve? What can we do to help these children so they donâ€™t get too far behind? These are all questions that professionals face on a daily basis all around the world. As we grow from our childhood and from a place where we are not fully dependent, yet not quite independent, to adulthood how can we as community members make a difference in a young personâ€™s life starting at the most vital times in their development? Obviously we can volunteer wherever and whenever possible, but can anyone think of an activity or idea to help go above and beyond and really make a difference?