Chancellor's Check-Up: The Gift of Learning - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/8/04

Chancellor's Check-Up: The Gift of Learning

You know you should give your children plenty of fruits and vegetables for their physical development, but what about the nourishment you give them for their brains? Dr. David Smith, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, says reading to your children is just as important.

How early should you begin reading to your children? Texas Tech Medical Center's Dr. Donna Bacchi says reading to children as young as six months of age is one of the most important things a parent can do to insure later success in school.

"We now know that the critical time of brain development is the first three years of life. Children who are read to early and often develop language and writing skills at a faster pace than those who don't, so it's critically important for parents to read to their children early and continue reading with them so that they will be very well prepared for school," explains Dr. Bacchi.

Many medical institutions are incorporating programs that promote literacy as a standard part of pediatric primary care, so that children grow up with books and a love of reading.

"One of the things that pediatricians do is counsel parents on child development. And so when a parent comes into the office, one of the things that is important for the physician to talk about is reading with children because the parent needs to understand that 10 or 15 minutes of time that they spend with a child is critically important for their overall development," adds Dr. Bacchi.

Red Raider Readers provides books to children starting at six months of age during well-child visits. The program also has volunteers in the office that help parents learn the appropriate way to read with a child.

The National Academy of Education estimates that 35% of American children reach kindergarten unprepared to learn, most lacking the language skills that are required. The Texas Tech reading Raider Readers program has given out more than 26,000 books since the program started in 1997.

And here is a Valentine gift idea for you. You can send a donation to the Red Raider Readers program and in return a Valentine will be sent to your special someone with a card informing them that a special gift has been made in their name. Plus, they will also receive a rose.

For more information on how you can give the gift of learning this Valentine's, you can call (806) 743-4481.

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