Every parent wants to raise good readers and writers! However, in recent years, society has created unnecessary pressure on parents to rush their children into learning to read. Just google “how to teach my baby to read” and you will find several books that proclaim exactly how to do that. However, you don’t need a detailed literacy regimen to start your child’s literacy development. All you need is your voice and books!!
Language development is a fundamental building block of literacy because it involves using sounds and gestures and eventually words and sentences to communicate orally and in writing. You can encourage your child’s language development by:
Talking to them as much as possible: Tell them what you are doing while you are together. For example, if you are preparing a meal, you may say, “We are having spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight. I’m taking out a pot and putting water in it. The water comes from the faucet and goes into the pot., etc” The more detailed you are, the more words they hear. You may feel silly and a bit uncomfortable carrying on this running commentary of what you are doing, but it matters, so keep doing it. (By the way, singing counts too!)
Ask questions and pause for answers: It is also important to ask questions and pause when you're talking as if you're actually having a conversation with your child. When they show an interest in what you are saying by babbling or waving their arms, respond to your child so they know you are listening to them. When they start to use words, repeat the words they say and build on what they say. For example, if your child says “More”, you might say “More cookies? You like chocolate chip cookies, don’t you? They are so yummy when they come out of the oven and are warm and gooey.”
Read as much as possible: You can start before they are even born by reading aloud and talking to them. Exposing them to a variety of books and reading to them on a regular basis helps your child hear language (phonemic awareness), develop print awareness and a love of books. As your child’s interest in books grows, you can begin to point out letters and their sounds, familiar words and connect what they are reading to their everyday lives. All of this will help build a strong foundation on which they can build their literacy skills.
As you can see, helping babies and young children develop the skills they need to become successful readers does not require expensive programs or resources. Simply spend time talking to and reading with them as much as possible when you are together.
Any questions? Please email us at Janice@Neighborhoodlit.com. Taylor Burke is a teacher and Director of Communications at Neighborhood Lit. and works closely with Janice Migliazza, a Reading Specialist and owner of Neighborhood Lit, Route 34, Colts Neck to bring you this information.