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[box] Read and Learn – A New Year’s Resolution[/box]

As 2016 draws to a close and we look forward to a new year, it’s time to think about new objectives and goals that we may want to achieve in the coming year! As we face into the 2017 there is a enormous amount of potential for each of us to learn grow and develop, and most of all children. Babies, toddlers and children alike have the ability to learn and develop each day and as parents small changes in your daily routines can help foster this development.

With the introduction of new technology, electronic games and apps we can be sometimes quick to forget the potential of a simple book and in terms of language progression and development, books are one of the most useful tools that parents can use to foster their child’s language and learning. Reading with your child can nurture their imagination and creativity, develop interaction and engagement, increase their vocabulary and narrative skills as well as their memory and attention. In short, reading is most certainly a resolution that you should add to your 2017 list!!

Read with your child regularly to maximise their learning and use it as a fun and creative way to support their language development. When introducing books and reading to your child keep the following goals in mind,

 

Children should hear words often  

Children learn through repetition, read the same words and phrases to them multiple times, choose books that are repetitive in nature… this will help build their vocabulary

Children will talk about their interests

Children develop language around their interests and research has shown that parents who follow their child’s lead and talk about activities and subjects that interest them, tend to have children who have a more advanced vocabulary. Books provide a wealth of colours and stimulating imagery to entice children and provides a platform for them to use a range of communication, including pointing, gesturing and commenting. When reading, refrain from questioning your child and follow their lead, naming things they are interested instead…this will help develop their language and vocabulary

 Children learn best when you respond to them

When interacting with your child, respond to their interests and attempts to interact, comment and question. Acknowledge all types of communication including pointing, gesturing and vocalizing. Allow your child to lead the interaction and expand on their areas of interest, respond to their communication positively and use a range of language, repeating words and phrases to help familiarise your child with them. When reading wit your child focus on the areas that interest them, allow them to lead and focus on developing language related to their interests

 Expand and explain the meaning of words

Use books and reading with your child to develop their understanding of words, children learn and retain words best when they understand what words mean. Books are an excellent way to develop understanding of new language, point out pictures and name the item, use gestures and point to pictures as you read the related sentences. Develop simple conversation around vocabulary that comes up in books

Develop grammar alongside vocabulary

When speaking with young children, focus on grammar and using grammatically correct sentences and phrases. Research shows that children learn language best when simple sentences and phrases that are grammatically correct are spoken to them, rather than simplified utterances, that leave out some grammatical rules and markers. When reading with your child, emphasise sentences and phrases, linking them to their areas of interest and the illustrations provided

Research suggests that reading with children as young as 8 months can help with their language development, when reading with your child remember to,

  • Follow their lead and interests

  • Pause and wait for them to initiate, respond and interact

  • Expand and explain the meaning of new words

  • Comment on their interests, use questions but intermittently

  • Label pictures

  • Develop conversation around areas of interest 

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References

Dickinson, D. K., Griffith, J. A., Michnick Golinkoff, R., & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (2012). How Reading Books Fosters Language Development around the World. Child Development Research, vol. 2012. Available online at: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/cdr/2012/602807/cta/.

Debaryshe, B. D. (1993). Joint picture-book reading correlates of early oral language skill. Journal of Child Language, 20(2), 455–461.

Karrass, J. & Braungart-Rieker, J. M. (2005). Effects of shared parent-infant book reading on early language acquisition. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26(2), 133–148.

Lowery, Lauren. Promoting language with Books. Hanen.org. Hanen. (2016). Available online at: http://www.hanen.org/SiteAssets/Helpful-Info/Articles/promoting-language-with-books.aspx