Did you know that newborn babies are gaining literacy skills from the moment they are born? It’s true! So, grab a baby (or a cup of coffee) and keep reading to learn how it is never too early to make a difference in the literacy growth of a child.
With every song a baby hears, their tiny brains are learning new words, robust language skills, and studying your face to learn facial expressions. Every book they encounter is an opportunity to listen to new and exciting vocabulary, see images that expand their world, and explore books with their hands and/or eyes.
Believe it or not, these skills create a sturdy foundation for learning to read and write!
The best way to encourage these skills is through play and conversation. Now, let’s see some literacy learning in action.
- Monkey see monkey do! When you read to a child, they watch how you are holding the book, turn pages, and even how you stop and talk about pictures on the page. It’s not an accident when you walk into a room and catch them holding a book and babbling away! Learning to read for fun starts early.
- While you are reading a book together, point to a picture on the page. Choose something you know they like and is available in the environment. Have them find the object in the room by going to get it, pointing to it, or looking at it! This helps them make connections to the story.
- Treat your young learner as a competent contributor even before they develop conventional literacy and language skills. Learning takes time and involves lots of 'errors' and starts and stops. Scribbling, babbling, and looking at books upside down are important stages in this developmental process. It is especially true for students with learning challenges who may not have had the same access or opportunity as typically developing children. A large contributor to any child's literacy and language success is dependent on how we think about a child's capacity to learn. We must behave accordingly!
It's never too early to engage young learners in literacy learning. It begins at birth and continues with every book held, every page turned, and every word read. So, continue to read to your littlest learners, even those newborn babies!