If you are like me, one of your biggest fears is that by the time your little one goes off to school they won’t have the skills they need and they will be behind the other children. Obviously this fear is a slight over reaction, but throughout my research and training as a tutor at a Lindamood-Bell Learning Center (they work with children and adults age 4-??) I have compiled a list of activities that are easy to incorporate into daily life and help me feel a sense of accomplishment in regards to my little one’s learning and literacy development.
- Put down the smartphone/ Turn off the TV: this may seem like a no brainer but it’s not as easy as you would think! Disengaging from technology and giving your child your full attention is the most important thing you can do for their little brains.
- Read to them: this also seems obvious but it should be done everyday, and with all different types of books. I collect as many books as I can and everyday get out a stack of 5 with the goal of reading them all that day, and try to rotate them so we aren’t reading the same ones everyday. One of the biggest benefits of reading daily is helping your little one develop an attention span, as well as matching your words to the pictures in the book. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the words in the book and stop to describe pictures or create dialogue in funny voices.
- Tell Stories: Your little one loves to hear you talk and watch you make faces, do so through story telling. Your stories can be about anything, your little one won’t care, as long as they are exposed to a varying words and sentence structure they will be enthralled.
- Sing Songs: Your little one will love to sing and dance with you! Whether it is along to the radio or a song you just made up, this a great way to expose the to language and get their imaginations going.
- Play Copy Cat: When your baby makes squawking noises, or babbles, mimic them! You can do this the opposite way and try to get them to mimic you as well. This works great for names, you can point at family pictures and practice, or the same can be done for toys and objects around the house.
- Go To The Library: this little outing can help expand your personal repertoire of books and in many other ways too! We try to go to the library at least once a week. While there we take the time to get seasonal/holiday books, check out the arts and crafts on display, and socialize with other little ones! It is also so fun when we find a book that mommy or daddy recognize from their childhood to pass on to baby and create more memories. Getting the children in the habit of using the library is also important in creating another generation that works hard to keep libraries open and available to everyone! Libraries are so important!
- Narrate Activities: As activities occur it is important to explain what is happening to the child. They are not merely a bystander! Get them involved! Sometimes it may seem like you are talking to yourself but everything you say is absorbed on some level. I always explain to my little one what we are doing, when we are doing something, and who will be involved. Even though he may not grasp many of the concepts, some day he will! Helping to set a good example of how to express oneself will do wonders when your child can talk and needs to communicate with you!
- Describe Toys/Objects: This is similar to #7, but it is important to teach your child as many adjectives as you can, including number, color, size, and texture. This will help your child’s imagination grown and help them to picture objects in their mind when they hear the name.
- Question and Answer: Always involve your baby in the conversation, don’t just tell them things, ask them too! After asking questions, always pause and wait for a little, sometimes you can see the wheels turning in there! If the child doesn’t respond with a babble, you can model the answer and try to get them to mimic. This helps create a model for conversation flow, with the questions and pausing to wait for someones answer.
- Letter Blocks: even though my child is far from learning to read we have letter blocks and flash cards that we use every few days to help create letter awareness. This can be done by saying the letter and showing the block, as well as associating that letter with a particular animal, object, or person. One of my little one’s favorite games is watching mommy build a tower that spells a word and then knocking it down!
There are so many benefits to working on literacy at a young age, and not just learning to read. You are creating a little human that needs to learn how to express themselves to convey their wants, needs, and feelings. Literacy goes a long way in helping to foster social development as well, creating conversation patterns and helping the child in identifying social cues. All in all, literacy is essential in fostering an independent and confident little person, so put down your phone and start reading (: