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Developing Literacy Skills from an Early Age


Is it ever too early to begin teaching literacy skills to your child?  Research would say that it is not.  Parents of infants and toddlers are in an excellent position to begin cultivating a love of learning in their children.


When many people hear the term “literacy skills,” they automatically think of reading.  While reading to your child is very important, it is not the only way to begin developing literacy skills with your young child.


One way to help your infant or toddler begin to develop their vocabulary is by simply talking to them throughout the course of their day.  When you are out running errands with them, use rich, descriptive words to describe things to them.  When caught in a rainstorm, describe the “cold, wet raindrops,” the “crashing and booming thunder that sounds far away,” or the “bright white lightening.”  Describe things in as much detail as you can to them to help them start developing their vocabulary.


Rhyming words are essential pre-reading skills, so spend time telling nursery rhymes and singing all kinds of songs to your child.  You can even make up silly words to make you both laugh.  


When you do read books to your infant or toddler, it is a good idea to pick a chunky “board” book or a soft, washable book.  Both are very kid friendly and relatively easy to clean.  Look through the book and talk about the pictures.  Find items in your home that are the same as the items in the book.  


As much as children love to read, there will be times when they will be “done” after only a couple of minutes.  It is perfectly acceptable to stop reading in the middle.  It is best not to force a small child to finish a book so that they continue to think of reading as a positive activity.  


As you are reading to your child, show your child the words.  Run your finger along underneath the words as you read, left to right.  This begins teaching your child the mechanics of reading: that we read top to bottom, left to right.


Finally, as your child gets older and begins to have favorite stories, let them “read” the story to you.  As young as the age of three, children can memorize a story and love to be creative in their storytelling.


For more information about Calvary University’s Family Literacy Program, check here.