I just finished Jill Stamm’s “Bright From The Start” and was encouraged by her section on how live, repetitive interaction boosts early language development. Her suggestions seem natural – great tips to keep in mind as we language on together.
Language development begins in utero. Understanding its use begins as infants interact with family and caregivers, while language acquisition explodes by the time they’re three years old. Babies are born physically equipped to hear distinct language sounds (phonemes). By age one, they tune out words not frequently spoken around them, which in turn, they cannot easily pronounce. In fact, normal and deaf-signing toddlers go thru similar language development milestones: 1st word (11-14 mos), two word combos (16-22 mos), complex rule-driven communication by 3 years on. While the ability to read early is not consistently linked to advanced intellectual performance later in a life, it’s increasingly necessary to excel in certain schools, and thus, influence self-esteem et al.
Live, repetitive interaction is not about putting a CD, radio or video on repeat for passive learning nor about having a non-stop verbal diarrhea with your child. Rather try these activities together!
- Dialogic reading: Read with children while engaging them throughout. Describe the illustrations (where’s the frog, how many), describe what they think is happening, predict what might happen next (what’s he doing, where’s he going), personalise ideas (remember the frog at the park?), share feelings about things in the story, leave lines incomplete — let them fill in the blanks!
Choose books that match your child’s brain level of engagement. Stages of a reader (based on cognitive development):
- Attends to pictures, doesn’t form stories – picture/photo books, flash cards
- Attends to pictures, forms oral stories – creates own story across the pages with “nonsense talk” – listener has to see pictures to follow along
- Attends to pictures, forms written stories – spoken words and intonations sound like reading
- Attends to print – recounts and retells stories they already know while pointing to the print rather than pictures, not actually “reading”
Recommended tot books (the list is endless, here’s a few from her book)
- Interactive/lift the flap – Dr Seuss, Karen Katz. Baby Dance (Taylor, A). Fit-A-Shape: Shapes. Where’s My Fuzzy Blanket (Carter, N). Wheels on the Bus (Stanley, M). Touch and Talk: Make Me Say Moo (Greig, E). Quack Quack, Who’s That? (Noel, D).
- Emotions: Winnie the Pooh: Feelings (Smith, R). WOW! Babies (GEntius). Faces (Miglis, J). Baby Faces (Miller, M). Where the Wild things Are (Sendak, M). Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Viorst, J). The Selfish Crocodile (Charles, F). Glad Monster, Sad Monster: A Book About Feelings (Emberley, E). No David! (Shannon, D)
- Rhyme & Rhythm: Dr Seuss, Each Peach Pear Plum (Ahlberg), Moo, Baa, La La La (Boynton). Five Little Ducks (Raffi). Five Little Monkeys (Christelow). This Old Man (Jones). The Itsy Bitsy Spider (Trapani). Find the Puppy (Cox)
- Scribbling (Pre-Drawing/Writing): Crayon World (Santomero), Figure Out Blue’s Clues (Perello). Blue’s Treasure Hunt Notebook (Santomero). Harold and the Purple Crayon (Johnson). Get in Shape to Write (Bongiorno). Messages in the Mailbox; How to Write a Letter (Leedy)
- EP books: Cheerios Play Book (Wade). M&Ms Counting Board book (McGrath). Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Counting Fun Book (McGrath). Kellogg’s Froot Loops (McGrath). Sun Maid Raisins Playbook (Weir). Oreo Cookie Counting Book (Albee)
- Helping Young Children Learn Language and Literacy: Birth Through Kindergarten (Vukelich, C. Christie, J. Enz, BJ)