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Introducing Toddlers to Literacy Skills
a love of reading begins long before the actual skill of reading. Understanding
early literacy skills and how to best nourish and support helps parents ensure
that their toddlers are set up for a lifetime of reading, learning, and growing
through literature that engages their minds.
Emerging research has shown that literacy begins long before formal schooling. Children in infancy through toddler-hood are engaging with the tools of literacy such as books, paper, pens, and crayons. Some of the earliest literacy milestones involve simply noticing and interacting with books. Once toddlers see that books contain engaging images and bring pleasant experiences, they will begin to associate books with fun.
It's never too early to begin reading to children and letting them see and touch books.
Research shows that reading, language, and writing skills are intricately linked and develop together from very early childhood. At these early ages, most learning takes place in the form of social interactions. Children learn by mimicking the adults and older children in their lives, so it's very important to model literacy habits.
Let children see you read so that they associate reading with daily activities. Read to them regularly, even if they do not yet have the attention span to sit through the whole story. Reading at this stage is not an all-or-nothing experience. Exposure to reading as a fun activity is the primary goal.
Choose Good Books
Not all books are created equal. It is important to choose books that promote literacy goals and meet children's cognitive and developmental needs. The American Psychological Association recommends choosing books that have visual elements that will help introduce lifelong literacy skills. These "print-rich' features include things like brightly coloured pictures, dialogue bubbles, or words written ornately in a way that fills the page.
The content of the books is also important. Toddlers need books that connect to the words and concepts that they are working to learn about in the world around them. Books that use everyday objects that are familiar and recognizable help them associate the stories with their larger understanding of language, and this makes the connections more meaningful.
Reading to children is the most effective way to build literacy skills, but reading actively is a skill that sometimes takes some work for parents to develop. Stopping to ask questions, pointing to patterns and important details, and giving children room to ask questions and explore the page are all strategies that make reading a dynamic cognitive experience rather than a static one. It is important that reading be a bridge to learning, and learning requires interaction and engagement.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Once you have found some books that your little one finds engaging and interesting, you will likely find yourself reading them again and again. This is an important part of the literacy experience because it gives children the opportunity to memorize language patterns and recognize words as they hear them. It also allows children to 'read" a book from memory before they can actually decipher the words on the page, and this boosts confidence and enjoyment.
If you're looking for some inspiration for getting started with early literacy skills, there are some wonderful books (both classics and contemporaries) that will give you a great start. These are all available as sturdy board books, making them excellent first books that can stand up to some rough treatment (and a little slobber).
• Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault- This book introduces the alphabet with fun, colourful illustrations and engaging rhymes.
• Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle- This classic is filled with fun animal noises that are easy to imitate white also introducing a simple plotline to follow.
• The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle- While many of Eric Carle's books make excellent early readers, The Very Hungry Caterpillar endures as one of the most popular because of its engaging pictures of everyday objects, introduction to early counting, and fun storyline.
• Don't Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus by Mo Willems- Kids love the interaction with the pigeon, and the frequent appearance of features like word bubbles and engaging visual text elements makes this a great literacy starter. While early literacy is incredibly important to set up lifelong skills, it's also important not to put too much pressure on yourself or your child.
The best way to ensure a lifetime of reading is to make it enjoyable, frequent, and engaging today. Contact us today for reliable school supplies.