Early Literacy Skills

Support Your Child's Early Learning Through Words

Children are sponges and begin soaking up the world around them from the day they are born. Research has proven that children who have a rich vocabulary by the age of three have overall success in school but especially with vocabulary, language and reading comprehension skills. There’s no better way to boost your child’s vocabulary and language skills than talking to him frequently, consistently and using a large variety of words. The more quality words children are exposed to the better!

Along with having meaningful conversations with your child, it’s important that you read to your young child every day and expose them to music as books and songs also introduce your child to different words. Talk with your little one about unfamiliar words and what these words mean.

While parents are the biggest influencer in helping their children with their early literacy skills, be sure that you and your child care provider is on the same page when it comes to learning. Ask your child care provider how she supports language development. For instance, do they talk with the young children and give them time to share their thoughts? Do they have multiple reading times each day? Is music played in the classroom?

  • Look at your baby face to face when you talk, being sure to make eye contact.
  • When you talk, give your baby time to respond. Mimic adult conversation by talking to her in a back-and-forth manner.
  • Share books with her that feature interesting textures. Talk with her about how the books different textures feel.
  • If your baby is using hand gestures like clapping or to show she’s cold, reinforce the words for her actions.
  • When reading simple word books, try rhyming with the words or introduce her to a more sophisticated word that means the same thing. For instance, if the books says “big” you can say “enormous.”

AGE 1 TO 2

  • When your child says a word or gestures, you should respond immediately by using that word in a complete sentence.
  • Help your child begin to think critically by asking him questions as you read or talk with him.
  • Read colorful books to your baby. Talk about the pictures and use lots of quality words to describe the scene.
  • Build on what your child says. If she asks for a hamburger for dinner, asks her if she wants lettuce on it. Keep the conversation going by asking other questions: Does she want tomatoes too? What color tomatoes and what do they taste like?
  • Ask your child to think of explanations for the actions or emotions of children and animals you see while you are on a walk. Ask him questions such as “why is that little boy running?” or “why do you think that dog is barking?”

AGE 2 TO 3

  • Enlist your child’s help around the house. Ask her to put her cup on the table or bring you her shoes.
  • Practice saying the first and last name of your child and each family member, as well as if they are a brother or sister, or mama or daddy.
  • Ask your child to help you solve small problems during the day. For instance, “Oh no, we have run out of tape. What should we do?
  • Children this age can now follow more advanced directions. You can ask them to do things that require multiple steps, such as: “Please grab your jacket from the closet then put it on before we go outside.”
  • As you drive around town, point out and name objects, buildings, colors, and etc.

AGE 3 TO 4

  • Help them learn more complex language, such as future tense, by asking questions or making comments about what might happen next in certain situations.
  • Talk about letters and sound. Grab a rhyming book like The Gruffalo, and point out words like claws and jaws that have the same sound and some similar letters.
  • Ask your child to tell you about his day, giving him your attention and asking questions while he does so.
  • Make story telling a part of your day. Ask your child to tell you what happened the last time you visited a particular park or playground, or what you bought at the grocery store on your last trip.
  • Ask your child’s teachers how they use vocabulary, sounds and letters in the classroom.

AGE 4 TO 5

  • When eating out at restaurants, go over the menu with your child but encourage them to order their meal all on their own.
  • Pause during book reading to talk about the story. This gives her time to think and talk about the characters all the while helping to build her comprehension skills and vocabulary.
  • Build your child’s vocabulary by stressing new words, talking about what they mean and then relating the word to your child.
  • Use your face, voice and hands when talking with your children. Don’t be afraid to point, frown, or shrug when talking with your child as these actions can help define words.
  • Children need to hear a word several times before they understand it or use it. So, when introducing a new word, remember to repeat it in sentences over a course of days.

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