Ask the Expert – Promoting Early Literacy

It’s never too early to foster a love of reading and books with your child.  Reading together not only promotes early literacy, but it also enhances parent-child bonding, increases attention span, and enhances language and vocabulary development.  Reading together is the most powerful tool in your child’s learning.

  • Read together every day. Whether it’s a short story or a stack of picture books, try to snuggle up and read together a little bit each day.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a new book or one that you have read again and again, both enhance a child’s language and early literacy skills.  This special time together adds up.  If you read together for 10 minutes every other day, by the end of a year you’ll have read for a total of 30 hours with your child!
  • Build a family library. Studies show that children who have books in their home have a higher success rate in school. So, build up a family library by utilizing school book orders, local bookstores, discount chains, used book shops, and thrift stores.  Make sure everyone (including you!) has reading material that they like.
  • Let your children see you read and write. This is harder in a digital age where everything is electronic, but when we consistently utilize our screen technology for literacy it can be difficult for a child to understand what we are doing.  Drive home that reading and writing are important reading newspapers, magazines, and printed books.  Use actual shopping lists and sticky notes and talk about the words and letters you are writing.
  • Go to the library. Make a regular visit to the local library to check out books.  Meet the librarians in the children’s section, go to storytime, sit together and read some books that you have chosen.  Don’t forget to look at the audio book and music options for the car.  Make sure to get something for yourself!
  • Choose a book that’s “just right”. Follow your child’s lead and choose books that interest them.  If your child’s attention span is shorter, choose books with fewer words and pages.  If your child is still a bit rough with books, consider board books or books with thicker pages.

Meredith Hankins, M.S., CCC-SLP, is an experienced speech therapist at United Ability who was recently awarded the Augmentative/Alternative Communication Professional of the Year by the Speech and Hearing Association of Alabama.  Do you or someone you love need speech therapy or assistance with augmentative communication?  Please contact our Ability Clinic at 944-3944.

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