Reading or looking at picture books with your children will encourage natural language learning. Reading a book together gives your child practice sharing joint attention or a common focus with you, which is precursor to language development.
Reading with young children also helps them to develop pre-reading skills (holding a book right side up, turning the pages sequentially), which gives them a strong foundation to become readers themselves.
Below are 3 tips to maximize your child’s language learning through reading.
Talk about pictures.
While the text in many books may be simple enough to read as written, you may choose to “read” with your child by simply commenting on the pictures as you turn the pages. Use language that is age-appropriate for your child, modeling single words or short phrases to describe illustrations. Focus on giving her language for the pictures she sees rather than asking questions.
Follow your child’s lead. Take notice of the pictures that catch your child’s attention. Label the illustrations that your child points to, acknowledging her interest. Provide your child with the words to help her express herself. Take cues from your child to know when she is finished reading a particular book or done participating in the activity.
Use repetition. Although you may get bored of reading the same book over and over again, repetition is key to learning language. Given frequent opportunities to read the same book, your child may begin to show you what she’s learned by pointing to pictures that you name or by labeling them herself!
Your busy schedule and an on-the-go mindset can make it hard to set aside time for language and listening development. Snack time is a great time to take a few extra minutes to sit with your toddler and encourage language.
Here are five ways to help make snack time into a language activity.
Give Two Options.
Ex. “Do you want an apple or a banana?” Provide your toddler the opportunity to name the food item rather than a simple yes or no question.
Give your toddler the snack in a child-proof container or the wrong snack. This will encourage him to ask for help, to open, or tell you that it’s not the snack he wanted.
A Little Bit at a Time.
If possible, give a few pieces at a time. Help your toddler count the pieces. Then, wait until he asks or vocalizes for more before giving it to him.
Model the step-by-step of getting ready for snack so she’s exposed to more language. (Ex. “First, we are going to wash our hands. Then we will get your apple and I will cut it up for you. Do you want to put it on your Elmo or Mickey plate?”)
Have your child help you clean up to develop independence skills and responsibility. Make cleaning up into a listening activity. (Ex. “Give Mommy your fork and throw your napkin in the garbage.”)