Most of us think literacy begins in the classroom. But the skills that support literacy begin taking shape the moment we’re born. Below is a collection of strategies for laying a foundation for literacy in your child’s first three years of life.
- Be responsive. Respond when your child attempts to communicate with you. Whether your child is communicating through body language, eye contact, or verbalized sound, learn your child’s cues and be expressive in return. Make your face and voice the most interesting things in the room. Your child will need to learn to read you long before he or she learns to read a book.
- Repetition is good. Children learn through repetition. Make reading and singing to your child a daily routine. Play familiar games and use familiar language. Your child is a container, and each time he or she hears a word it is like a drop of water. After enough repetition, the container will be full, and water will start sloshing out as your child’s first words.
- Model and Motivate. Let your child see you reading and writing. Keep print in your home at your child’s eye-level. Allow them to explore it. Encourage them to participate, even if they’re just babbling or scribbling on paper. Remember, you are building a foundation.
- Read to your child. It’s never too early to start. Reading is a great way to expose your child to the sounds of your language and to begin the long process of associating sounds with meaning.
- Oral language. Talk and talk and talk to your child. This is the most important thing we as parents can do. Celebrate your child’s early sounds and first words. Encourage their attempts at communication. Get on the floor and play together. Sing the songs your parents sang to you. Make language fun and interactive.
Literacy takes time. Establishing good habits early can help support the development of your child’s language. In time, this foundation will support the growth of literacy. Be patient. Above all, try to have fun with the process!