Language and literacy development start at birth, and is largely dependent on your child’s everyday interactions. The more time you and others -- such as grandparents, siblings, and child care providers -- spend singing, talking, telling stories and reading to them, the better their skills will be.
Simple things like a walk along your street or a trip to the grocery store can turn into a vocabulary lesson: point out colors in leaves or fruit, make up a silly song about vegetables or count cars. It all helps your child learn words and their concepts while having fun or just having mom or dad’s attention.
Early literacy looks different at six months than it does at six years. However, it’s important to know that it is never too early to start. The goal at the earliest ages, and every age, is for your child to have positive experiences and learn to love books, music and learning so that they want to keep learning. Help make the development of language and literacy skills fun and enjoyable to help set the stage for the later years.
Here are some ideas:
Fingerplay is brief stories that are often rhymes that use finger movements to help tell the story. Think of “Eensy-Weensy Spider,” “Where is Thumbkin?” and even “The Wheels on the Bus” to help you realize what fingerplay is. You can even make up your own stories with fingerplay, and should encourage your child to help act it out with you. Search the Web for more fingerplay activities or ask a librarian for book suggestions.
Play word and sound games that help your child understand that letters make different sounds that can be put together to create new words. For instance, if they like to say baa-baa, change the letters to make it la-la, then ma-ma and ha-ha. Have them repeat it back to you. Try pairing your game with an alphabet book or cards.
Scribbling, drawing or writing? Well, before young children can learn to write they begin scribbling, which shows that they understand that making marks on a page has meaning. The marks often turn into a story they created, then pictures that you can more easily identify and eventually into words. Help your toddler through this process by having plenty of engaging materials (crayons, markers, paints and paper) available.