Teaching a Child to Read Stimulates Intellectual Development
Early Brain Development and the Terrible 2's
We all know that our brains develop the most in the early formative years of life, and it is during this time that the most critical phase of intellectual development takes place in small children. Young children are born to learn and they come with an innate curiosity to learn about and interact with anything and everything around them. This is why you so often see small 1, 2 and 3 year old toddlers running everywhere, touching everything, and at times, seems to make a chaotic mess out of everything. To us adults, this may seem like the young child is being mischievous or causing trouble, however, they are simply exploring their surrounding, discovering new things, expressing their curiosity, and trying to learn about the new things around them.
In fact, the "Terrible Two's" should really be called the "Terribly Curious Two's"! Because that's what it is: the children are expressing their natural curiosity about everything.
These young children are curious and eager to learn about reading too! Teaching a child to read at a very young age gives the child a priceless gift, and a greatly advantaged start to life. Children who learn to read early on typically go on to perform well in school and achieve success in life. Reading is the foundational skill required for all academic subjects, and reading difficulties will always results in learning difficulties, leading to poor academic performance. This can lead to low self-esteem and poor self confidence with a negative effect on school performance. On the other hand, children who can read well and read fluently will perform well in school.
Young children thrive on mental stimulation, because from birth on, our brains are designed to be stimulated for development and growth. Did you know that by the age of about 8 months, a baby can have up to 1,000 trillion synapses in the brain? These synapses are the paths that are critical to the biological computations that affect perception and thought. The way these synapses are formed, kept, or pruned depends on our early experiences in life. After age 1, the pruning of synapses occur more quickly, where by age 10, a child will have around 500 trillion synapses. Only the synapses that are used are kept, and those not used are removed. This is why intellectual stimulation is so important for brain develop in a small child.
Teaching a Child to Read Early May Improve IQ Development
As you can see from above, a child's brain forms massive amounts of synapses very early on, but these synapses are reduced to almost half by age 10. However, with intellectual stimulation, such as reading and learning to read, the brain becomes more active, receives plenty of opportunity to grow and develop, and will likely preserve a higher number of synapses in the child's brain. This can also lead to a long term benefit for IQ development.
There is a very well known study called the Milwaukee Project that began in the 1960's (Garber & Heber 1988). This study was designed to improve the IQ and academic performance of children, and to study the effects of intellectual stimulation on children. The researchers focused on children in one district of Milwaukee, which had the lowest level of income and education of the entire city. This district also had a surprisingly high rate of "mentally deficient" children who lived there (33%!).
In this study, the researchers selected 40 newborns from mothers with an IQ of lower than 80, and the newborns were randomly assigned to an experimental group and a control group. Children of the experimental group were brought to mental stimulation centers where they received high quality education to help them develop language and cognitive skills. The children stayed at the center 5 days each week and 7 hours per day. This program ended when the children were six years old.
The fascinating, although not surprising, results of this study found that the children of the experimental group which received intellectual stimulation had higher IQ than the children from the control group. The experimental group had a mean IQ of 120 compared to 87 of the control group. After the program ended, the child's IQ had declined from 120 to 105 by age 10. 
Other studies done by Cunningham and Stanovich had made similar statements where based on their study results, they said that "those who read a lot will improve their verbal intelligence; that is, reading will make them smarter."  Reading is the most important life long skill that will go on to help a child succeed. Any difficulties in reading will lead to learning difficulties, and therefore, children should learn to read early on, starting with home schooling instead of waiting to learn to read when school starts.
So, How Do You Teach A Child to Read?
You may be at a loss on how to go about teaching your child to read. In fact, most parents probably fret over how to teach their child to read, but then end up leaving it up to the schools... After all, that is what schools are for, isn't it? The unfortunate reality of it, is that many in-school teachers are actually not knowledgeable in the basic concepts of the English Language, and do not know how to address the basic building blocks of language and reading.  Perhaps this is why 38% of grade 4 students can't achieve basic levels of reading proficiency.
If you're reading this, and have read this far, then I know you're a concerned parent seeking information and help on how to teach your child to read. Like you, I'm a concerned parent too, and teaching my children to read was one of my most important priorities. I'm here to tell you that teaching a child to read is not difficult, and can be easily achieved with the proper information, guidance, and a simple step-by-step program. Using this program, we taught our children to read before they were 3 years old. You too, can teach your child to read.
1. The Milkwaukee Project
Heber, Garber, 1988
2. What Reading Does for the Mind
3. J Learn Disabil. 2009 Sep-Oct;42(5):392-402. Epub 2009 Jun 19.
Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading.
Joshi RM, Binks E, Hougen M, Dahlgren ME, Ocker-Dean E, Smith DL.