I was an Early Head Start teacher for almost 3 years. During the course of this job, I learned a lot about how babies learn. Did you know that ages zero (newborn) to three years old are the most formative years for a child? These are the years when the most brain development occurs. Babies and toddlers are ALWAYS learning. It makes sense. EVERYTHING is new to them!
I once talked about reading to my baby and someone asked me, "Why would you read to your baby?"
Author Emile Buchwald said, "Children are made readers in the laps of their parents." This is so true. How do children learn? By observing! If a child never sees their parents reading, the child will probably not view reading as something that is important or fun! So how can you help to instill a love of reading in your child?
- Read to them! You can start this when your baby is just a few months old. At first, he will just listen and look at the pictures. As he gets older, he will try to turn the pages and grab the pictures as you read. When he is old enough to talk, he may even repeat some of the words. Many parents establish a bedtime routine for their babies to help them sleep better at night. Reading a story before bed is a great part of a bedtime routine and you can carry it on throughout childhood.
- Expose your child to books. As early as 6 or 7 months old, let your baby sit on the floor with books. Of course you want to get board books and soft books that are safe for babies. IT'S OK FOR THE BABY TO PUT THE BOOK IN HIS MOUTH! As long as it's a sturdy book, it's totally fine. Babies experience the world with their mouths. This is how they will experience the books. Let them do this. As they get older and as they watch you read the books to them, they will start to try and turn the pages themselves and pat at the pictures in the books.
- Repetition is key. If you are a parent, you know that your child asks to watch that same movie or TV show over and over again. Why not do this with books as well? Find books with phrases or words that repeat. When your child is a toddler or preschooler, he will love to repeat or say phrases of the book along with you.
Remember these things and you can get your child started on the reading track early! Happy reading!