It's important for parents and caregivers to understand the critical role they play in their child's language development. A child develops much of her capacity for learning during the earliest years, since this is the time when the brain undergoes its most dramatic growth.
When parents talk, read, and sing with their child – from day one – they’re filling their child’s brain with words, sounds, and emotions that help make brain cells make connections and grow stronger. This will have a lifelong effect on a child’s ability to learn language and communicate with others. In fact, children who develop basic literacy skills before kindergarten are three times less likely to drop out of school later in life than children who do not develop these skills early on.
Ways You Can Encourage Strong Language Skills:
Talk with your child. Research shows that the more parents talk with their children, the larger vocabularies those children develop. So use everyday moments – in the car, at the grocery store, during bath time – to talk with your child and teach him about the world around him.
Be a good listener. As your child begins to babble and say his first words, be sure to listen, make eye contact, and respond. This will help encourage him to continue.
Read together every day. Ask questions as you read and talk about the pictures. Help your child make connections, such as how the picture of a cat in a story looks like the neighbor’s pet.
Use repetition as a learning technique. Read the same stories over and over again to create familiarity with the words and phrases.
Play with your child. Acting out storybooks, drawing pictures, listening to music, dancing, and singing songs as all great ways to stimulate language and literacy development.
Stay positive. If your child says a word incorrectly, simply repeat the word with the correct pronunciation. Offer encouragement and respond positively to your child’s efforts, rather than focusing on mistakes.
Parent Tip: Remember, it’s the quality of the time you have with your child, not the quantity, that matters most. Make the moments you have count.