- The more you read, talk and sing to babies, the greater their foundation for vocabulary and understanding. The youngest ones are amazingly receptive to language.
- Toddlers will sit still to interact with books if you pique their interest with questions like “Who’s that?” and “What else do you see?”
- Preschool is the time for children to begin to learn the alphabet, and to become aware of the sounds that make up words — a crucial skill for reading known as phonemic awareness. They don’t call it that, but Victoria and her mom practice phonemic awareness whenever they’re reading her favorite rhyming books. They clap out the syllables in names (“Vic-tor-i-a”) or play word games, such as “I’m thinking of a word that starts with the letter E.”
- Young school-age kids need lots of practice reading to and with their parents. Try echo reading to build fluency: You read a passage and then let your child read one. Call your child’s attention to punctuation and interesting words as
2. Good readers have better vocabularies. Think about the conversations you’ve had with your child today. There’s a good chance that — because of the hectic lives parents lead — most of the words you used were simple, immediate and directive. For example, “It’s time to go now!” Especially on our busiest days, it’s easy for parents to forget that kids look to us for varied and rich conversations. One study showed that when teachers used more complex speech, very young children learned to create more complex sentences themselves. From third grade on, kids need to learn about 3,000 new words a year — that’s eight new words a day. And it takes at least four exposures to make a word their own. To enrich your child’s word power, try these ideas:
- Tell stories about the past, present and future. At dinnertime, relate a story about your childhood or ask about an upcoming school event.
- Encourage play. According to child development expert Sue Bredekamp, it’s a crucial way for children to hone their language skills and give voice to their ideas.
- Read a variety of books — picture books, stories with rhymes, science or history books that convey cool new information. And engage your child in extended conversations about what you read together.