4 Helpful Tips You Can Use Right Now For Improving Language Development And Reading

Language development and reading: 4 Helpful take-home tips you can use right now

How do language development and reading impact my child’s rate of development? We read a lot about reading to your baby, but just what sort of role do you see this playing in encouraging children’s speech development?

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My parents had the rather strange idea that children only needed books once they could read. This was before the days of television advertising and jingles. Books in our house seemed to be limited to ‘Diseases of the Pig’ and ‘Poultry Keeping on a Small Scale’. 

This meant I learnt to read by looking at posters and by looking at the newspaper before my father got home or by sneaking a look at my mother’s magazine. I learned to read without much help by the age of 3, but it isn’t a method I recommend.

Another member of my family was studying for her bar exams while her baby was still under one year old  - so poor Holly had to listen to law reports, rather than Winnie the Pooh or Little Grey Rabbit.

Again no long term harm seems to have done.

The reason is that my parents and Holly’s did give us lots of attention – in my case they told me lots of stories and rhymes. We played games and sang together – I fed the chickens, sat on top of the cart horse, had picnics with the pigs and looked at flowers through my uncle’s magnifying glass.

But books are important…

In part at least not for their content, but for the fact that sharing a book means time spent together in close proximity and sharing a joint happy, safe, experience.

Start right with language development and reading

The time spent will also help your child to enter the world of books for themselves. Do go to the library if there is one near enough. But buy books that your child can call their own too.

At first choose stout books with only one image on a page. And only gradually choosing books with more complicated illustrations.

Children like repetition - the same story over and over again – my nephew’s record is persuading various members of the family to read ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ until he had heard it about twenty times in one day. The way to avoid this driving you potty is to limit it – once with a favorite story and then a new one.

If your slightly older child is reluctant to read, follow his favorites – if he likes animals find an animal story. If his preference is for engines, then there are plenty of choices and so on.

If the story is a familiar one or one of the repetitive fairy stories tell it together – you start a sentence and pause before the familiar phrase or name. Talk about the colors on the page. Ask questions ‘What color is the boy’s ball?’ ‘Where is the dog hiding?’ ‘Where does it say ‘Cat’?’ Pick out the letters of your child’s name on the page.

Run your finger under the words as you read so that the child learns to associate the sound with the shape of the word. Practice phonetics – ‘Cat’ –‘C’, ’A’, ‘T’,

2 Things to keep in mind about language development and reading

Your child may not learn to read at an early age. Some do and some don’t. But they will associate books with happy times.

They will be familiar with the way they work – right way up, left to right etc. All these things will eventually encourage language development and reading on his own. What’s more, it will also make the transition to those first days at school so much easier.

4 Helpful Take-home tips from language development and reading

  1. Hard cardboard picture books with bright colors and simple words are the first stories to read aloud to your child.  Pronounce the words just as you would in real life- no baby talk.  At times, an emphasis can be placed on sounds (for example, ‘ssssss-snake’ or ‘aaaaa-apple’).  Don’t wear the child out- when he’s done, you’re done. 
  2. Advance book reading levels approximately every month.  Babies are very smart and get bored easily.  Make the sessions fun.  Laughter and play are more important than whether the page or book is finished.  You can go back to favorites, but make sure to have plenty of newer stories on hand.  Following along with your finger may help the child learn to read eventually, but don’t do it every time or the child will become dependent on finger reading.
  3. Books with sensory stimulation bits, like bits of fur glued on them or pieces of plastic snake skin are great tactile ways to help teach a child to speak.  They feel the item and it registers in their brain.  Connected to the spoken word, the child has a quicker understanding of the concept.  
  4. After midday before nap time and at bedtime are great times to read to a child.  Children are less likely to be distracted.  After several readings, the child will be able to read along at pertinent points.  For example, in the “Three Little Pigs”, allow the child to either say or act the huffing and puffing of the big bad wolf.

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