Toddlers learn from those around them. Even if they do not have words, or even if they don’t seem to listen, reading with them is incredibly valuable. Reading is the foundation of all learning, and it’s never too early to start!
“Reading” to toddlers is a little different than reading to an older child. You don’t have to read the words! For many children’s books, there are too many words, or the sentences are too long. The important part of reading with your toddler is simple engaging them. It only takes a few minutes to choose a book, sit with your child and read.
When you are reading try these few suggestions to help your toddler learn:
Teach your child about the book – it opens and closes, we turn the pages! When you encourage your child to turn a page they are following a simple direction and learning to use their hands to turn one page at a time. You help them to slow their pace and engage a little longer by giving them a way to participate. In English books read left to right, simply turning pages in the right direction starts to teach your child this skill.
Talk about the pictures! Early reading teaches new words and encourages interaction. Choose books with simple pictures. If you have a little one not yet using words or only a few words, simply label what you see, “dog,” “ball,” “rain.” If your child sits a bit longer you can read the text. Reading to your child allows them to hear the rise and fall of your voice. They hear words you may not use in your day to day life, and it increases their attention span.
Allow your child to look at the pages and wait to see what they like. Say the word of the picture they notice.
Book sharing is the perfect time to learn pointing. Pointing is a huge milestone in a child’s life! Some children need help learning to point. When we point, or when a child points, it means “look” which is a wonderful way to communicate. Books are an easy way to work on pointing. They are close and we can touch them. Model pointing for your child by simply choosing a picture, pointing, and saying the word, “house!” If your child cannot point yet, you can practice patting the pictures instead. The important part is you are teaching your child to show you what they like and share it with you.
There are lots of ways to read with your child… on your lap, siting on the floor, reading in bed. Reading is a perfect time to snuggle. If your child needs a little help making eye contact with you, you may want to try reading where your child can see your face. A great position is to sit your child in the corner of the couch or chair, and you sit on the floor. This puts you in the perfect place for your child to easily see your face as your share a book.
There is no right or wrong way to read with your toddler. The more you read the more everyone benefits. Enjoy your sweet child, and happy reading!!