Parents are a child's first teachers
Children learn a huge amount through the everyday activities and conversations that happen everyday at their home.They should be encouraged to have a curiosity about life and be helped to develop enquiring minds.
Learning happens everywhere, doing little jobs together, talking and sharing stories, songs and rhymes, all of these are fun and builds children's self-confidence and self-esteem.
Talking and listening
Children learn to talk and listen a long time before they learn to read and write. The more they practice talking and listening the more they will build the language and communication skills that they will need throughout life. Talking and listening can help us in all aspects of our ability:
- Listening carefully helps to build attention span.
- Conversation builds vocabulary and understanding.
- Helps us to form opinions and make choice.
- Enables better expression of feelings.
- Encourages empathy and respect for others.
- Teaches children to take turns.
- Develops the ability to predict.
- Encourages discussions about consequences.
Children enjoy rhyme, rhythm and repetition. Playing with sounds is great fun but it is also an important part of learning how language works. Try to learn rhymes and songs by heart, remembering the words and the tune. Sing in different voice, high or low or silly, Pretend to forget the last word in the rhyme and let the child finish it off.
We used to recite the nursery rhyme with my daughter. It is one of her first books. We got it as a gift from a teething pack. We paused before the last word and wait for her to finish off:
Sleeping baby warm and -- cosy
Chubby cheeks soft and -- rosy
Playing babies love their -- toys
They are making lots of -- noise
Teething babies feel so -- glum
They are crying 'we want -- mum'
Smiling babies giggle with -- glee
All of them happy as can -- be
Gradually we progress to
Sleeping baby -- warm and cosy
Chubby cheeks -- soft and rosy
Playing babies -- love their toys
They are making -- lots of noise
Teething babies -- feel so glum
They are crying -- 'we want mum'
Smiling babies -- giggle with glee
All of them -- happy as can be
Sleeping baby warm and cosy -- Chubby cheeks soft and rosy
Playing babies love their toys -- They are making lots of noise
Teething babies feel so glum -- They are crying 'we want mum'
Smiling babies giggle with glee -- All of them happy as can be
Eventually she can remember the whole rhyme.
An important step towards their reading journey is when children begin to see that everything in the world has its own word. My daughter knows the word 'Stop' and 'Speed Camera' and she read the word 'Police' on the side of police cars and 'Fire' on the fire-engines. She 'read' the name of the supermarket as well, she points to the TESCO Voucher and spell it out for me. Of course she isn't reading properly but she recognises these words. When She passes the road sign, and points the letters, "B for Brenda, A for Brenda, E for Brenda." she says.
Sharing a Book with your Children
The routine of sharing books, stories, songs and rhymes helps to build pre-literacy skills. It also provides a special time and place for you to build a strong and loving relationship with your child. We borrow four books from library every two weeks, and do our best to read it for her before she goes to bed. Gradually she starts to remind us to read bedtime stories when we are too busy or just forget the routine.
When you share a book with your children, try these tips:
- Read the title of the books and the name of the author.
- Follow the words with your finger or let your child do it. This shows the child that those black squiggly lines are important, because they are the words that are telling the story.
- Ask open questions like,"What do you think about that?", "Why did she do that?"
- Encourage them to predict what might happen next.
- Ask about the story later and see if they can say it in their own words, with helpful prompts from you.
- Have a regular story time but add other story times, maybe as a special treat when friends visit.
- You can borrow lots of books from your library for free and it is good for children to learn to take care of the books and return them safely so other children can read them. But libraries do understand that accidents sometimes happen. So, if there is a problem, mention it when you take it back.
- Lots of libraries hold story and rhyme time sessions.