By Lane Mott, MS, CF-SLP
Developing pre-literacy skills is an integral component to language development and later academic success. Sitting down and enjoying a book with your child can provide opportunities to teach important life lessons, improve language abilities, and promote quality bonding time. Reading with your child increases vocabulary, teaches event sequences, and increases phonological awareness. Even looking at illustrations can develop important skills such as learning inferences or predicting what will happen next, problem solving, and increasing understanding of story plots.
The National Institute of Health found that home and parent literacy programs yield a moderate to large effect on oral language outcomes and general language abilities. Research has proved that regardless of strategy or literacy activity, creating these learning moments will positively effect language skills, problem solving, and overall cognition. (NIH, 2008)
Learning early literacy skills such as how to hold a book, where the cover is, and practicing scanning pages left-to-right can be fun to teach and promote future reading skills. Make story time special by making blanket tents, reading by flashlight, or under a tree outside. Help develop the story scene by changing voices for each character or creating environmental sounds during suspenseful or exciting moments. Have your child point to images while you describe them and give chances for them to comment or label objects or animals in the illustrations. Change it up by letting your child create his or her own story by using just the illustrations from a book. Choose books with alteration like, Clara Caterpillar By: Pamela Duncan Edwards, and have your child name other objects, animals, or foods that begin with the same letter. Practice rhyming with books like, Sheep in a Jeep By: Nancy E. Shaw, to increase phonetic awareness.
With more access to technology and media outlets, it is crucial that children are given opportunities to develop their imagination and develop individual creativity. Sharing these meaningful and enriching moments with your children can give them access to the world of literature.
Need some ideas? Local libraries are a great resource for parents, providing book related activities, morning and afternoon story times, and special events such as visits from authors. The internet has given parents access to free books, activities, crafts, and creative story time ideas. At home the frequency and duration of these story time moments may depend on busy schedules but finding the time is important. Remember, children’s books are short and take up only a few minutes. Personal Creations found that Clifford the Big Red Dog takes approximately 3.4 minutes to read and Where the Wild Things Are lasts around 4.2 minutes. It’s never too young to start enjoying literature and picture books with your little ones. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently found that early exposure to literacy can help with language acquisitions and literacy skills. Grab a book and get started! (AAP, 2014).