Children learn language by listening to their parents and others talk and joining the conversation as they get older. As they hear spoken words, children learn how individual words sound, what words mean, and how words can be put together to communicate ideas and information. See our Early Literacy Tip: Talk With Your Child blog post for additional example of talking activities.
Babies & Young Toddlers
- Talk to your baby! Speaking with your child encourages your child to imitate the noises you are making, shows that speaking is fun, and builds his/her vocabulary. Talking helps your child’s brain develop, which aids them later in life when learning reading and thinking skills.
- Songs and rhymes have predictable rhythms and repetition that help slow language down so your baby can hear different letter and word sounds. As an added benefit, moving around during songs and rhymes helps develop motor skills and delivers oxygen to a child’s growing brain.
- Encourage your baby’s coos, growls, & gurgles. Listen for your baby to babble to you and make the same noise back to encourage mimicking.
- Have a conversation with your baby. Pause and let your baby respond, even if your baby cannot talk back to you or can only babble. This helps your baby learn the rhythm of language as well as conversation skills.
- Point at objects and say what they are to your child. If your child sees a ball, point at the object and say, “Ball.” This can also be applied to people: if Mommy walks into the room, point at Mommy and say, “Mommy!” This further develops your child’s vocabulary and helps them associate that an object (or person) and a word go together.
Older Toddlers & Preschool Children
- Talk to your child every chance you get, even if it’s while you are doing the dishes or are at the grocery store. Describe what you are doing. “See how I am washing this plate? I have bubbles, and I scrub it clean.” “Do you feel how big this carton of milk is?” These simple tasks will make a big impact on forming sentences and increasing vocabulary.
- Make up stories together. When you take turns deciding what happens next, your child learns to remember details, develop imagination, and practice listening skills.
- Ask your child questions about simple daily tasks. “Would you like an apple or an orange?” Try adding more descriptive words. “Is the apple sour or sweet? Is it juicy?”
- Talk about the shapes you see throughout the day. Circles and triangle are often part of letters. Being able to identify shapes will help your child recognize letters. When your child explores different shapes, they are learning to observe things that are the same and different.
Check out our Early Literacy Tips series of blog posts here for additional activities to get your child ready to read.