In the first days of their life, and even before birth, infants are already processing information about the sounds they hear, attuning to patterns of language and distinguishing familiar voices. Making sense of sounds, words and sentences are crucial basic skills that will help babies and toddlers as they progress towards speaking and reading.
Early reading is rooted in the daily activities of under-threes, involving lots of listening and speech. During the first years, as their literacy and communication skills improve, children learn to understand and use pictures and words, to speak about familiar stories and to sing songs and rhymes. At the same time, these activities teach them how to navigate through the images and print they see on the page.
Here are five useful tips from Karen Boardman, Head of Department, Early Years Education, at Edge Hill University in England to boost early reading for kids under three years old:
1. Foster a "chatty" environment
Direct and intensive communication boosts babies and toddlers vocabulary development; conversations they only overhear do not contribute much in this process. Take turns in conversing with them about anything, in daily routines, while nappy changing, getting dressed, playing together, or taking a walk in the park. It's never too much.
2. Play with rhythm and music
Play rhyming games, sing nursery rhymes and make a lot of music with your kids. Repetition helps them learn new words and much much more.
3. Shares pictures and photographs
Use images of familiar people, animals, objects and places to create meaningful experiences for kids under three. Encourage them to point out and speak about the details they see in pictures.
4. Point out words everywhere in daily life
Draw your kids' attention to letters, words and symbols, at home, in the street, in shops, etc.
5. Explore a lot of books, magazines & newspapers
Book reading and story time with parents are key factors of social development for young children.
Picture: The Fairy Tale, by James Sant (Google Art Project, WikimediaCommons, w/Effects)