The simple answer is yes! The period of early childhood development is unique - physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. The human brain achieves approximately 85% of its adult size by age 2 and 90% of total growth by age 3. This period of growth corresponds to a young child's attainment of important developmental milestones, including emotional regulation and attachment, language development, and motor skills.
Early literacy theory and research emphasizes a natural unfolding of skills through the enjoyment of books, the importance of positive interactions between young children and adults, and the critical role of literacy-rich experiences.
By focusing on the importance of the first years of life, we give new meaning to the interactions young children have with books and stories. Looking at early literacy development as a dynamic developmental process, we can see the connection (and meaning) between an infant mouthing a book, the book handling behavior of a two-year-old, and the page turning of a five-year-old.
We can see that the first three years of exploring and playing with books, singing nursery rhymes, listening to stories, recognizing words, and scribbling are truly the building blocks for language and literacy development.
Children whose parents read to them become better readers and perform better in school. Other family activities, such as telling stories and singing songs, also encourage children's acquisition of literacy skills. Children's early experiences with books are among the most significant indicators for their success in learning to read in school, and supportive efforts that begin very early in life are the most successful.
In 2013 Cannon Falls schools now offers All Day Every Day Kindergarten (ADED) for our students as well as an option for ADED preschool. I am also pleased to say that our preschool program is completely full with a waiting list to get in. The best news is that our legislature also agreed with the importance of early literacy and development, passing a bill that pays for ADED programming, in 2015.