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Ready Your Child For Reading
It's never too soon to start your child on the path to reading. Simply talking to your infant and toddler helps her develop the vocabulary she will need as she enters school and begins to read. As you point and name objects, she will begin to understand the meaning of words, and will eventually begin to incorporate those words into her vocabulary.
The U.S. Department of Education recommends beginning to read to your baby when she is six months old. According to their 2003 report, "Hearing words over and over helps her become familiar with them. Reading to your baby is one of the best ways to help her learn."
In that same report, the Department of Education also recommends that parents reach out to groups that can:
* Help you find age-appropriate books to use at home with your child;
* Show you creative ways to use books with your child and other tips to help her learn; and
* Provide year-round children's reading and educational activities.
A child's love for reading grows when the words on the page come to life through experiences shared as a family. For example, after reading Eric Carle's Ten Little Rubber Ducks to your toddler, you can learn all about real ducks, make ocean snacks, or go on a family outing and feed the ducks at a nearby pond.
In order to help your child get ready to read, the Department of Education also recommends:
* Using sounds, songs, gestures, and words that rhyme to help your baby learn about language and its many uses.
* Pointing out the printed words in your home and other places you take your child to, such as the grocery store.
* Spending as much time listening to your child as you do talking to her.
* Taking children's books and writing materials with you whenever you leave home. This gives your child fun activities to entertain and occupy herself while traveling and running errands.
* Creating a quiet, special place in your home for your child to read, write, and draw.
* Keeping books and other reading materials where your child can easily reach them. Having her own bookshelf or small bookcase will not only make her feel special, but will also communicate to her that reading is special.
* Reading books, newspapers and magazines yourself, so that your child can see that reading is important.
* Limiting the amount and type of television you and your child watch.
The best thing for you do to ensure that your child will grow up reading well and loving to read is to read to her every day. The time you spend reading together will create a special bond between the two of you, and will open the doors for a dialogue that will continue throughout the more trying years of adolescence. The Department of Education suggests that, when you're reading, you discuss new words. As an example, they suggest that you say, "This big house is called a palace. Who do you think lives in a palace?" Likewise, they suggest taking time to ask about the pictures and what your child thinks is happening in the story.
The same report suggests additional strategies for early literacy:
* When reading a book with large print, point at each word as you read it. Your child will understand that the word being spoken is the word she sees.
* Read a favorite book over and over again.
* Read stories with rhyming words and lines that repeat, and have your child join in.
* Read from a variety of children's books, including fairy tales, poems, and non-fiction.
The more strategies you can incorporate into your child's reading experience, the more likely you are to help your child develop into a strong reader.
BONUS : Recent Drug Abuse Statistics
Recently, the results of the Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey (SCVS) 2006 were released, along with the Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2006, giving an insight into the prevalence of drug abuse in Scotland in all age groups. Of course, these statistics are very similar to the rest of the UK and give us valuable statistical information on the current level of drug use.
The statistics below are certainly significant for parents who may not realise how many children use illegal drugs and equally for employers who may not have considered how many of their employees may be under the influence of substances whilst in the workplace.
The SCVS survey took the views and experiences of just under five thousand adult respondents representing a cross section of society, whilst the SALSUS survey covered over 23,000 children. The results of these studies are summarised as follows:
Scottish Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS) 2006:
Many parents are currently unaware of the prevalence of substance misuse amongst children. Prevention is obviously the key here, but often parents put off discussing drug issues with their children, assuming that they wont be exposed to them until they are older. As the statistics below demonstrate, drug use can occur very early on in todays culture. So dont make the mistake of putting off your drug and alcohol awareness talk with your children.
9% of 13 year olds and 27% of 15 year olds reported that they had used an illicit drug at some point in their lives.
7% of 13 year olds and 23% of 15 year olds reported that they had used an illicit drug in the year prior to the survey.
4% of 13 year olds and 14% of 15 year olds reported that they had used an illicit drug in the month prior to the survey which is indicative of more frequent recreational drug use.
There was little difference between boys and girls in the percentage who reported that they had used illicit drugs in the last month (13 year olds, boys 4%, girls 3%: 15 year olds, boys 14%, girls 12%).
4% of 15 year olds reported using illicit drugs at least once a week (including those reporting use on most days). An additional 4% of 15 year olds reported that they usually used illicit drugs once or twice a month and 4% a few times a year.
Links between smoking, alcohol and drug use?
33% of 13 year olds and 50% of 15 year olds who were regular smokers had also used drugs in the last month. The prevalence was lower than this among weekly drinkers; 19% of 13 year olds and 34% of 15 year olds who were weekly drinkers had also used drugs in the last month, but still higher than the overall prevalence for all pupils (4% of 13 year olds and 13% of 15 year olds).
So what about the availability of drugs?
As with other UK data concerning the availability of drugs, this survey also showed how many children have actually been offered illegal drugs.
In 2006, just under one quarter (23%) of 13 year olds and over half (53%) of 15 year olds reported that they had ever been offered illicit drugs. There was little difference between boys and girls in their experience of being offered illicit drugs. At age 13, 25% of boys and 21% of girls reported having been offered illicit drugs, whilst at age 15 years old 55% of boys and 51% of girls had been offered illicit drugs.
It seems that there is a definite cultural shift toward substance abuse in the younger generations and this is very difficult to reverse as the young people themselves become parents with a more liberal and relaxed attitude towards drugs. Having a greater awareness of drugs, their effects and the associated hazards is vital for parents if they are to educate their children.
Many parents are also unaware of home drug testing kits which are available via mail order. When used in conjunction with open communication, drug information and co-operation, these kits can be used to help deter children from abusing drugs and to create an opposing force against peer pressure. Being able to say, Sorry, I cant use drugs because my parents test me at home can make all the difference.
Scottish Crime and Victimisation Survey (SCVS) 2006:
This survey covered adult drug use trends which of course affect the workplace, road safety and many other areas of modern living. Employers in particular should be aware of the following statistics and how they can affect the safety of all employees.
Over one third (37%) of all respondents reported having taken illicit drugs at least once during their lifetime, while 13% reported using illegal drugs in the last year.
There was a trend for more male respondents to report having used drugs (43%) than female respondents (31%) at any point in their lifetime.
Over 55% of those respondents aged 20 to 34 years old, 46% of those aged 16 to 19 years old and 39% of 35 to 39 year olds and a fifth of 40 to 59 year olds had used drugs at some stage in their lives, showing that the younger age ranges are far more likely to use illegal drugs.
With regard to more recent drug use, a third of male respondents in each age group under 29 years old had used drugs in the last year. This fell to 21% of 30 to 34 year olds, 17% of 35 to 39 year olds and 4% of 40 to 59 year olds. The number of female respondents reporting drug use in the last year also declined with age (36% of 16 to 19 year olds, 24% of 20 to 24 year olds, 12% of 25 to 29 year olds and 5% of 30 to 34 year olds).
With regard to which drugs were used most commonly, it was determined that Cannabis (or Marijuana) was the drug most frequently used in the year prior to the survey and used ever (11% and 33% respectively). Cocaine was reported to have been used in the last year by 4% of those questioned and used ever by 9%. Ecstasy was used in the last year by 3% and used ever by 10% of respondents. Amphetamines and poppers had each been used in the last year by 2% of respondents and used ever by 14% and 10% of respondents respectively.
The highest level of Cannabis use ever was reported amongst 20 to 24 year age olds (54%) and 25 to 29 year olds (53%). The same was observed for cocaine (17% of 20 to 24 year olds and 18% of 25 to 29 year olds). Ecstasy use ever was reported most often among 25 to 29 year olds (25%) and 30 to 34 year olds (22%)
Other useful statistics were also taken into consideration such as which drugs people had been offered. Cannabis (Marijuana) was the drug reported as having been most frequently offered in the last year. 20% of males and 12% of females reported having been offered Cannabis in the last year
In conclusion, whether you are a parent concerned about your children or an employer looking to reduce the impact of substance abuse in the workplace, you need to arm yourselves with more information and develop a structured plan of action. Drug information, on-site drug and alcohol test kits, awareness training, etc, are all available so formulate a strategy today!