Are you looking for easy ways to promote early literacy at home with your little one? Over my years as a mom of four and a literacy educator, I have learned a few early literacy learning tricks that will both bond you and your child while also encouraging a love of books. Why is early literacy so important in a child’s life?
A recent report by the National Institute for Family Literacy shows that 3-5 year olds who have been read to at least 3 times per week are two times more likely to recognize letters, two times more likely to have word-sight recognition, and two times more likely to recognize words in context. In other words, your child gains a larger vocabulary, develops language development skills, and understands patterns of language from an early age just by sitting on your lap and reading your favorite books. So, let’s get to reading!
Ways to Promote Literacy at Home for 6-12 Months
The most important factors when encouraging literacy for infants is creating a comfortable environment together with books. Follow your baby’s lead and read as many books as they like. Talk about the pictures and point to the text. Have a conversation with your baby and sing simple songs. Creating positive literacy experiences with plenty of books makes story time fun from the earliest age.
Ways to Promote Early Literacy At Home for 12-18 Months
During the toddler age, you can make story time even more fun. Offer lots of variety with different books, especially soft backed books or board books that babies can easily handle. As little ones develop fine motor skills, their ability to turn pages and hold the books continue to develop. Allow your child to show you how many books they want to read, being careful to not push them to sit and read for long periods of time. We want it to be a fun thing to read with mom and dad!
Begin to ask questions while reading picture books like “Where’s the teddy bear?” and “Where is his nose?” Children’s books are loaded with beautiful photographs and colorful illustrations, so take time to explore them thoroughly. Your little one will begin to point to pictures and associate words with illustrations. Continue to build your home library with books from local sales, bookstores, the public library and even hand-me-downs. I loved having a book party for each child’s first birthday to offer them even more options and foster a love of reading.
Promoting Literacy At Home for 18-24 months
As your little one grows, he will begin to recall familiar pictures and characters. If he seems to enjoy a specific series, be sure to supply more of them in your home environment. He may also begin to pretend play with stuffed animals or siblings and practice “storytelling” on his own. This is a great time to encourage your child’s early literacy skills by getting older children involved. Our older three love reading to our toddler, and she enjoys the attention.
Make reading a part of daily routines and allow books to reflect your child’s interests. Our toddler loves farm animals, so our bedtime ritual involves lots of reading with animal sounds! Ask your child open-ended questions and see if she can respond in simple ways.
Consider adding nursery rhymes to your nightly routine, as understanding rhyming words is an essential part of a child’s early literacy development. Sing simple songs like the Alphabet Song and point to the letters of the alphabet as you sing. You will be amazed how her oral language develops. Make those a part of everyday activities with your child.
Promoting Literacy at Home for 24-36 months
In these early years, you will begin to see your toddler ask for the same book over and over again. Even though it’s tempting to reach for a different one, give in and read it again! Incorporate word games like reciting nursery rhymes and leaving out a word for your child to fill in.
Provide plenty of opportunities for your little one to “write” with colored pencils, crayons and erasable markers. Gradually, these literacy activities will connect writing with meaning which is essential for language skills for lifelong learning.
Encourage pretend play with books. We love to set up our dolls and stuffed animals with a stack of books. Our two year old rotates to each one and pretends to read aloud. So cute!
You can also begin to write simple words with magnetic letters, chalk, or paint markers. This simple activity begins to associate letters with making words and sounds, an essential skill to building strong readers.
I hope these ideas help you and your little one get off to a great start in early literacy! Enjoy those snuggles with your baby as you develop these essential life skills. Be sure to visit me at The Palmetto Mom for more great ideas on reading, traveling and cooking with your children. Thanks for reading!