Authors: Steven Scheinman, MD & Kelly Scheinman
Dr. Scheinman is the president and dean of The Commonwealth Medical College with campuses in Scranton, Sayre, Williamsport and Wilkes-Barre.
Kelly Scheinman is a health care consultant and former hospital administrator. She serves on the boards of United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties and St. Joseph’s Center.
This column is a monthly feature of “Health & Exercise Forum” in association with the students and faculty of The Commonwealth Medical College.
Healthy Holiday Gift Idea…a Book!: Part 1 of 2
A recent study found that reading proficiency at the end of third grade is a benchmark in a child’s educational development and ultimately their health and wellness!
When parents think of their child’s health, they typically focus on things like a healthy diet and on safety measures, such as choosing the right car seats and bike helmets. We all tend to think good health is more dependent upon what’s in the pantry than what is on the book shelf. Mounting evidence tells us this thinking should change. One of the healthiest things adults can do for children is to read aloud to them and encourage them to make regular reading a lifelong habit. In fact, a book is the best gift you can give a child you love this holiday season.
There is persuasive evidence linking higher education levels to better health and even more startling data showing clear connections between early reading and academic achievement. Here are some of the eye-popping conclusions from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
There are obviously clear health benefits gained by getting as much education as possible, but how does reading a picture book to a toddler influence whether he or she goes to college? The answer is that academic achievement is like a chain a person begins to assemble at the very dawn of life. Talking and reading to babies and toddlers is one link, it steeps them in words and builds their vocabulary. A rich early vocabulary prepares a child for the next link, pre-school and kindergarten, where they begin to amass the functional tools of reading, like “phonemic awareness” and word recognition. These tools help first and second-grade readers gain fluency. By third grade a vital link appears, one which children must successfully forge, otherwise all subsequent learning suffers.
What happens in third grade? Reading’s focus shifts. Children are no longer “learning to read,” they are reading to learn. Suddenly, success in other subjects increasingly relies on the student’s ability to comprehend the written word. This is a crucial transition and multiple child-health studies confirm that third-grade students who are not reading at grade level are at risk of a particularly grim “snow ball” effect: a failure to keep up academically, which accumulates exponentially through the grades and ultimately “explains differences in graduation and college enrollment rates.”
This seems like a tremendous burden to place on an eight or nine-year-old child. Fortunately, there are effective, proactive things parents, guardians or any concerned adult can do to help:
So, if you want to give a healthy gift, but can’t afford an expensive treadmill, elliptical or electronic fitness tracker, GIVE A BOOK…AND HELP A CHILD BECOME HEALTHY ADULT! Visit The Children’s Library of Lackawanna County on Vine Street in Scranton, PA
SOURCE: Reading on Grade Level in Third Grade: How Is It Related to High School Performance and College Enrollment? A Longitudinal Analysis of Third-Grade Students in Chicago in 1996-97 and their Educational Outcomes . A Report to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, University Of Chicago, Joy Lesnick Robert M. Goerge Cheryl Smithgall Julia Gwynne , 2010
NEXT MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum” in the Scranton Times-Tribune. Next Week: Part 2 of Reading for Health!
This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPaul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at The Commonwealth Medical College.