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Thanks for dedication

There is probably no skill taught in the early years of education that has more impact on a child’s future academic success than reading.

Simply put, reading effectively is the key to being able to study all other subjects. Even math lessons and tests require being able to read the directions. Good reading skills also can help boost a child’s creativity and self-confidence.

According to the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, early reading skills start with the amount of words children hear. The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age 5, and this is when youngsters are acquiring language skills, even before they can read.

Researchers have found that when mothers spoke frequently to their infants, their children learned almost 300 more words by age 2 than did their peers whose mothers rarely spoke to them, according to the Ferst Foundation. Parents who just talk as they go about their daily activities expose their children to 1,000 to 2,000 words every hour.

Research has found the single most significant factor influencing a child’s early educational success is an introduction to books and being read to at home prior to beginning school, according to the Ferst Foundation. In fact, the only behavioral measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in a child’s home, research has shown.

So, as the research shows, parents can best prepare their children for school by talking and reading to them frequently when they are very young and exposing them to a wide variety of printed materials.

But early educators do have an impact as well. A strong, inspirational teacher can do his or her part to help make up for differences in opportunities at home.

That’s why the Suffolk Reading Council names a City-Wide Reading Teacher of the Year annually. This year, it’s Bonita Bertero, a second-grade teacher at Pioneer Elementary School.

Bertero has been a teacher since December 2003 and loves to focus on reading.

“My favorite part is the students and watching them grow and watching the light bulb turn on,” Bertero told a News-Herald reporter this week. “If you make it fun, they will learn.”

Bertero will be honored at a banquet on May 8 and be considered for a statewide honor from the Virginia State Reading Association. However, we already think she’s worthy of applause.

Congratulations to Bertero, and thank you for investing in your students’ futures.