Early Literacy can sound a bit scary. “Do I have to start reading War & Peace to my baby? If they don’t have a favorite author by the time they’re three years old, have I failed as a caregiver?” The answers are no and no. Supporting early literacy is actually very easy. Early Literacy just means getting a child ready to read.
There are five suggested ways to help your child develop Early Literacy skills.
This can be as simple as narrating what you are doing. Sounds crazy, but you’ll be helping your child learn new words! I occasionally do this without kids present at the grocery store: “I am picking up a kumquat. What is a kumquat? It looks orange and small and round. Do I want to buy these kumquats? (I look at the price) Nope! These kumquats are expensive!”
One of the easiest ways to encourage early literacy is to sing with your child. “But my voice sounds terrible!” Doesn’t matter. Kids don’t care that you’re not going to perform on Broadway anytime soon. Singing helps kids hear the different sounds within words and helps them learn patterns. Clapping along helps them hear the syllables in words. Sing while you do a diaper change, wash the dishes, while giving the child a bath. Almost anytime is a good time for singing!
Read with your child. Let them hold books (board books if they are young enough to try to eat them. That is learning too!). Also, you don’t have to read every word in the book! You can describe things or ask them what they think is happening in the pictures. If you are having fun and enjoying it, your child will think of reading as fun and enjoyable.
Yes, they cannot write yet, but they can draw and they can scribble! Encourage them by giving them paper and crayons. Talk about their drawings! Half the time I wouldn’t know what a drawing is until I’ve gotten it explained to me by the child. That’s okay!
Unstructured or unplanned playtime allows kids to make up stories and to imagine. It makes them curious and gives them freedom to think on their own.