Reading and Children

“Although each of the sensory and motor regions is myelinated and functions independently before a person is five years of age, the principal regions of the brain that underlie our ability to integrate visual, verbal, and auditory information rapidly — like the angular gyrus — are not fully myelinated in most humans until five years of age and after …What we conclude from this research is that the many efforts to teach a child to read before four or five years of age are biologically precipitate and potentially counterproductive for many children.” (Wolf, 2008, p 94 – 96) Proust and the Squid

Charlotte Mason didn’t think children should begin formal lessons until they were 6. It seems there’s good science that backs that up.

” For thousands of years, the process of engaging with texts has enriched us, both existentially and – as Wolf’s fascinating book shows – biologically. In particular, reading has given us “the gift of time”- time when our thoughts can move beyond the words on the page to new levels of understanding, time to think the unthinkable. Reading is not just about absorbing information and finding ready-made answers; it is thought-in-action. There are no pre-packaged answers in life. “We can receive the truth from nobody,” said Proust; “we must create it ourselves.” But in the “Google universe”, with its instant over-abundance of information, how we read is being changed fundamentally. On-screen texts are not read “inferentially, analytically and critically”; they are skimmed and filleted, cherry-picked for half-grasped truths. By doing this we risk losing the “associative dimension” to reading, those precious moments when you venture beyond the words of a text and glimpse new intellectual horizons. Although not opposed to the internet, Wolf concludes on a cautionary note: we need to be “vigilant” in order to preserve “the profound generativity of the reading brain”.” (from this review in the Guardian)

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