During the month of September, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's Birth to Six site is putting the spotlight on the importance of talking with your young child.
One of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of language. Babies are born ready to learn any language. Babies and toddlers are much better at hearing the different sounds that make up language than adults. It is this skill of being able to hear the different sounds that make up their native language that eventually helps them learn to read. Being able to hear and play with the smaller parts of words helps children decode written words on a page. This skill is "phonological awareness," one of the six pre-reading skills research has shown that all children need to become successful readers.
Vocabulary is another important pre-reading skill. Knowing the names of things helps a child eventually make the connection between sounding out a word and understanding it. The more words a child hears, the more prepared she is to learn to read.(1)
It's never too early to start sharing language with your child. Research has also shown a direct relationship between the growth of vocabulary in children under age 2 and the extent that parents and caregivers talk to them.(2) Additionally, if you or your family speaks another language, this is the best time to introduce the other language to your child.
The best way to teach a child new words is to talk to him - and to read to him! Picture books contain rare words that we don't normally use in every day conversation. But it's not just reading-aloud that will help your child's vocabulary grow. There are so many ways to share language with your child. The Library's Birth to Six News blog will be highlighting different ideas for talking and sharing with your child this month.
(1) - For more information, please see: http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/ECRR/ECRRHomePage.htm. Every Child Ready to Read brings together research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children.
(2) - For more information, please see: Right From Birth: Building Your Child's Foundation for Life, Birth to 18 months by Craig Ramey, pg. 88-94.