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Health Information For Parents
Kids who hear a lot of language do better in school. And being read to is one of the best ways to hear language.
Reading to toddlers sets the foundation for later independent reading. Reading problems can be challenging to fix when discovered in elementary school. But many reading problems can be prevented if reading starts in the toddler and preschool years.
Before children can read by themselves, they need early literacy skills. These include:
You don’t need games, flashcards, or special instruction for a toddler to learn these skills. Reading to kids as often as possible is the best way to help them learn to read by themselves.
Reading aloud is also an important way to help kids move from babyhood to toddlerhood. Between the ages of 1 and 3, toddlers have celebrations and challenges. So it can help for them to hear stories about other kids and how they faced their fears about what’s under the bed or learned how to use the potty.
Kids make big leaps in vocabulary during this time, and learn about letters, shapes, colors, weather, animals, seasons. This can be strengthened through books. Choose books with many pictures your child can point to and name.
But while excited to learn about the world and experience it, your toddler also needs a strong connection with you. Reading together regularly can strengthen that connection, helping your toddler feel safe and comfortable.
Reading to toddlers often (if possible, at least once a day) is a great goal. Choosing regular times to read (especially before naps and bedtime) helps kids learn to sit with a book and relax. But you can read anytime your child seems in the mood.
If your toddler will let you, hold him or her in your lap when you read. This helps your toddler feel safe, happy, and relaxed. It also shows you’re giving your full attention as you show your child new things, and encourages your child to participate.
Toddlers like to do things on their own. Encourage this by putting out three or four books and asking your child to pick one. Praise the selection, let your toddler help you turn pages, and ask for help as you find things on a page. Your child will love to finish sentences in books with familiar or repetitive phrasing or rhymes. When you come to a familiar or repetitive phrase or rhyme in a book, pause and let your child finish.
Here are some other reading tips:
Trying to read to a toddler who won’t sit still can be frustrating. Be patient and keep trying. Find a book or a few pages that are interesting. If that doesn’t work, don’t force the reading but be sure to try again later. Remember that toddlers love repetition — if your child doesn’t seem interested in books, you may need to find a favorite and read it over and over again.
Some busy toddlers like to stand up while you read to them. Others like to look at a page or two before moving on to something else. Keep the book out — kids might want to return to it later, which you should encourage.
It’s OK if your child can’t sit still for an entire book — toddlers’ attention spans will get longer soon. You might want to keep reading even if your child moves around. Before bedtime, allow your child to touch and play with favorite toys while you read aloud. The sound of your voice will be a soothing reminder of the bedtime routine and that books are a part of it.
You may find that your child sits still while coloring or playing with a favorite toy while you read. Some kids might not look at you or the book, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested or listening.
You want your child to have positive associations with reading. If you feel tense or your child resists, consider setting the book aside and returning to it later.
Reading to your child is only one way to build early literacy skills. You also can:
Also, consider limits on screen time use, whether that’s a TV or other electronic devices.
Toddlers want to feel included and capable. So choose books they can follow along with, especially those with familiar or repetitive text so they can fill in words. Keep your toddler’s interest by choosing books with small amounts of words on the page and books about topics that you know your child will like.
For younger toddlers (12–24 months):
For older toddlers (24–36 months):
By now you will start to know what your child likes. Whether it’s trains, trucks, or stuffed bears, find books about these things. Kids this age also like books about children, families, and animals.
Toddlers love to look at homemade books, scrapbooks, or photo albums full of people they know (try adding simple captions). Poetry and songbooks are good choices for this age group too. You may find that story time turns into sing-along time.
Toddlers love to choose and look at books on their own. Keep books in a basket on the floor or on a low shelf where your child can reach them and look at them by themselves. Keep some books in the car and always have a few handy in your bag for long waits at the doctor or lines at the grocery store.
Visit the library or the bookstore and let your child pick books to read at home. Many libraries and bookstores have toddler story times that kids enjoy. And let your child see you reading for fun. It’s a great way to be your toddler’s reading role model.
A home filled with reading material is a good way to help kids become enthusiastic readers. Here are some ideas.
Kids’ reading skills don’t have to grow cold once school’s out. Here are someÂ ways to make reading a natural part of their summer fun.
For many kids, reading doesn’t come easily. But these simple steps can help them become eager readers.
Books make great gifts for kids. Here’s how to pick one to fit a child’s interests, maturity, and reading level.
Regardless of your child’s age or reading level, almost every community has programs and resources that are helpful.
Finding time to read is important to developing literacy skills. And there are many easy and convenient ways to make reading a part of every day.
This general outline describes the milestones on the road to reading and the ages at which most kids reach them.
It might look like just child’s play, but toddlers are hard at work learning important physical skills as they gain muscle control, balance, and coordination.
Toddlers are learning to talk, to walk and run, and to assert their independence. For many in this age group, “outside” and “play” are common requests.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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