Children learn language by listening to stories, songs and everyday speech. Your baby loves to hear your voice when you read, even if they don’t even know what a book is.
Talk, Talk, Talk
Keep talking! Talking helps your baby learn language, so it’s important to talk to them a lot – about anything. Describe what you’re doing or what your child is doing, even if they are too young to reply. They might not understand what you say, but they will hear and remember sounds. These sound memories help your child learn to talk as they get older, and later it will help them learn to read.
When your child starts to talk, reply with extra words. These new words will help build your child’s language. For example, if your child says, “Car,” you could say, “Look at that fast, blue car.” Using a range of words when you talk can really help your child learn.
Sing Your Heart Out
Sing nursery rhymes, songs and chants. Play, dance and make gestures that go along with the words and watch how your child reacts. By doing this you are helping your child hear the sounds of language, and connecting the words with your actions.
It can be hard for young children to recognize letters on a page. When your child is learning the letters of their name, you can help them by making the letters out of different types of material. You could use card, cloth, plastic or Play-Doh – children love to touch different things, and it will help them learn the letters.
Show your child a picture and ask them what it is. It can be anything familiar – food, toys, furniture, animals. This will help them learn more words and connect an object to a word, which is important for learning to read.
Read to your baby or toddler as much as you can. They love hearing the sound of your voice, even when it’s the same story time and again. It probably won’t be as fun for you, but listening to the same story will help your child recognize and remember words.