Thursday, June 17, 2010

What You Can Do to Support Your Baby's Language Development from Birth to 12 Months

My daughter just finished kindergarten two weeks ago. She would have been fine with going to school all summer long without a break because she loves school and everything about it: bus ride, recess, lessons in her main classroom, lunch, art, PE, and music class. Lets see if she still feels that way eight years from now...I hope so! When I think back about how I instilled in her a desire to learn, I think back to books. I read to her, labeled pictures, and let her "read" to me starting before her first birthday. I am doing the same things with my two year old son, and I hope that one day he loves preschool and elementary school as much as she has. The following link gives some ideas on how to develop language and literacy early on:

ZERO TO THREE: What You Can to Support Your Baby's Language Development from Birth to 12 Months

I think that many of the families of the infants and toddlers I work with do a great job of some of the suggestions listed in this link. The ones who do not often do not have books or educational toys maybe because of not having enough money or not understanding their importance. For the ones who can't afford books, I suggest going to the library (free) or dollar store (low cost). And for the families who think the child is too young to start looking at books, I provide handouts such as a copy of the link above or I show them the simple books I have. When I bring my books, I show the parents the response and interest the child has...that usually changes their minds and they realize the child is never too young! Sometimes the musical books in which you touch a button and a song or noise occurs gain the infant's attention. Other good choices of books include the ones with tactile pages such as fur or fuzz over the picture of an animal. Experiment with what gains your baby's or toddler's attention. Eventually, you will want to progress to small simple picture books with no noise or item to feel. You don't even have to read the book word for word, you can begin by pointing to pictures and encouraging the child to turn the page in order to be an active participant.

Sometimes books aren't offered to the children that I work with because of their special needs. But I have learned to make many accommodations for different disabilities. For example, for a child who has limited finger movement, foam pads can be placed between each thick cardboard page to make it easier to turn the pages. For children with limited head/neck/trunk movements, find a location to place the book that is easiest for the child to view it such as propping it on an easel in front of the child. For some children, maybe they will not be able to point to a picture, talk about the book, or turn the page, but they can at least listen to the adult read. If you think they can't understand you, still try. Maybe if the child is cuddling with the parent while being read to then at least attachment/bonding are occurring!

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