You talk to and with your child frequently, but did you know exactly how much you are encouraging your child’s language skills with those daily conversations and book-reading? Research has shown that when adults “provide children with higher levels of language stimulation during the first years of life, children have better language skills.”
Many picture books share interesting words that are not used in daily conversation. The book I Will Chomp You repeats the word CHOMP many times! Not only is reading books with repeated words fun, you’re also building up your child’s vocabulary since repeated exposure to unfamiliar words with meaningful context (like the accompanying pictures in books) helps children learn new words.
It may seem silly to remind parents to talk to their children. But it is important to note that the frequency and the complexity of how you talk with them does matter. Often when we talk with children, we are simply telling them what to do (business talk). Researchers have found that extra talk makes a difference in the amount of language and knowledge that children have. Adding descriptive information or telling stories about experiences helps children learn more about their world.
Use stuffed animals or puppets to sing songs, read stories, or talk to your baby. Even siblings can help with this fun activity! No puppets at home? Ask about our collection of puppets that can be checked out!
Reading books is a great way to introduce your child to new vocabulary words. It is okay to stop the story to talk about what the words mean. While reading Machines at Work, talk to your child about different kinds of trucks.
Having your child repeat and talk about new words is a great way to internalize them and make them more likely to be remembered. As you read Where Is Green Sheep?, sing one sentence and ask your child to sing it back to you!
Using puppets to talk or sing is a great way to encourage creativity and imagination. Take a favorite book (such as Elephants Cannot Dance) or favorite song and set it up with puppets to recreate favorite character, plot, or melodies.
Talking with your child helps them acquire language skills, like vocabulary, narrative skills, and phonological awareness, that will help them understand what they later read. After you read Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner, talk to your child about the different types of insects using the questions in the back of the book.
Remember, playing, talking, singing, reading, and writing are five simple practices to help your child on the path to reading. After reading aloud Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert, talk about the colors of the rainbow. Then ask your child to draw a rainbow. Learning how to hold a crayon correctly is one of the first steps in learning how to write. Afterwards, encourage your child to plant a make-believe garden full of the flowers found in the book.
Talking with your child is a wonderful way to help them develop their early literacy skills. Ask them questions that require more than a yes-or-no response, and give them time to formulate their answers. As you read Llama Llama Home With Mama, ask your child questions about the book. How do you think Mama Llama got sick? Did Llama Llama take good care of her? What did he do to help her?
Reading and talking with your child helps build vocabulary by introducing new words. As you read Hoppity Skip Little Chick, point out some action words like jump, hop, and bounce and talk about what they mean. It is okay to briefly stop while reading a story to point out a new word and what it means.