What children need to know about reading and writing before they can read or write is called early literacy.
As your child’s caregiver, you are their first teacher. The greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age five, a time your child spends with you. By age three, 85% of the brain’s core structure is formed. As a child ages, the brain gets rid of weaker synaptic connections in favor of stronger ones. We can improve the strength of synaptic connections with experiences that reinforce learning that has already occurred.
In our Building Blocks to Early Literacy series, we will share early literacy tips for you to do at home to help your child get ready to learn to read.
Today’s Early Literacy Tip is: Talk to your child during Playtime.
Playtime is very important to your child’s early literacy, in fact it is one of the tenets of the Every Child Ready to Read program. But, just because your child is playing doesn’t mean they can’t be learning as well. As long as learning is fun, even that can be considered playtime.
Talking to your child playtime keeps them engaged and, more importantly, helps build their vocabulary. The more words your child hears, the better their vocabulary will be. This will help them down the road when they start to read because it is easier for them to sound out a word they are familiar with rather than one they aren’t.
A great way to incorporate this is to talk to your child about their toys while they are playing with them or during clean-up. Have them name and describe their toys, and what they did with them while playing. This can also be helpful with their narrative skills, but that is a lesson for another day. Just make sure and keep the conversation simple and fun.
You can also do this during reading time, and the I Spy books are an excellent tool for this since many of them have toys as objects for your child to seek out. I Spy books come in all reading levels from picture books to Early Readers so you’re sure to be able to find one for your child. This is a great activity for you to do together.
It’s great to talk to your child any time but talking to them during playtime can be a great experience for you both and is a surefire way to get them ready to read.