USA (MNN) — Think your baby is too young to reap the rewards of reading? Think again. Research shows it’s never too early to start enjoying books with your little one.
In fact, a groundbreaking study in 1995 by researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley found that some children heard thirty million fewer words by their fourth birthdays than others. The children who heard more words were better prepared for learning.
Keys For Kids executive director Greg Yoder suggests this is a great time to consider what those 30 million words are going to be about. “What we’re encouraging people to do is make sure that they’re talking to their kids, but not just talking to them in a way that you or I would be talking to them on a regular basis (reminders, scolding, instruction), but talking to them about Jesus.” Keys For Kids has just the right tool for that, he adds. “We have children’s devotionals that are specifically for 6- to 12-year-olds, but the young kids are listening to these devotionals, too.”
Yoder says they’re writing stories about the issues real kids today experience in a variety of family scenarios–because that’s who is in the community. When a kid hears a story like his, something happens. “Kids can relate these real-life activities to their Christian faith, or in some instances, leading them to a Christian faith. It really has…an impact on kids.”
Time is of the essence for this audience because ”chances are you were between your 4th and your 14th birthday. That’s called the 4/14 Window. 65% of the people that call themselves ‘Christians’ today did so in that window [of time].”
Since we’re talking about development tools and resources, we’ll just admit that when you’re a new parent, EVERYTHING is overwhelming. Sometimes normal things become monumental tasks. Add sleep deprivation to the mix, and it becomes obvious that a little encouragement on the journey is helpful. “We’re coming out with this new program called Parent Minute,” explains Yoder. It helps to know you’re not the only one dealing with unique family matters. “Parent Minute is a real parent talking to real parents about real kid issues.” Yoder has plenty of experience to draw on, with four kids ranging from ages 16-30.
He explains why they thought it necessary to develop this “shot in the arm” for parents. “Frankly, we don’t do it right all the time. Sometimes, just understanding that we’re not perfect and that God, in spite of us, can still work all those things out in our kids’ lives.” Yoder says they’ll tackle issues about those missed moments, the triumph moments, and the God-moments. “One of the first programs that we’re going to have [on Parent Minute] is called, ‘If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’ You laugh about that, but it’s really true. Moms really do set the tone for what it is to be like in their families.”
Where can you find Keys For Kids resources like Parent Minute? Yoder says, “It’s going to be available beginning in January. Right now, it’s just going to be in the audio form, but we hope to be able to roll out a devotional of some kind to really help parents in that relationship.”