According to Judith Hudson, a developmental psychologist, “The key to reading readiness during the toddler years is indirect instruction: This involves introducing your child to books and print in a way that gets him excited about the stories they contain. Basically, your job is to show him that books are important — and fun!”
By singing, talking, moving, reciting rhymes and reading to toddlers we help their brains to form the links that are essential to learning all language skills. In fact, it is in the first three years, when the brain grows to 90% of its adult weight, that children have the greatest capacity to learn language.
During this time it is important to form the habit of reading daily to children. Reading aloud helps your child to learn how to hold a book and turn the pages, and that every word has a meaning. By hearing you read the words on the page and sound them out, he learns that letters make words, and words make sentences, and sentences are how we communicate with each other.
Make reading a pleasure. Create a cozy reading corner in your toddler’s room with a variety of good, age appropriate books. As you cuddle close to read, point to each word. After several pages, ask a question about the story, such as "Why is the little boy sad?" At the end of the book, offer to tell the story again. But this time, pause to allow your toddler to supply details from the story.
As you read, take cues from your toddler. Try some of these activities to hold his interest.
• Use different voices and dramatic inflections in your voice.
• Use a prop bag to illustrate parts of the story.
• If you read about dinosaurs, sing and act out a song.
Oh I want to be a giant grumpy Dino,
That is what I really want to be!
For if I were a giant grumpy Dino,
Everyone would run away from me. . .
Read alphabet books to introduce letters, which will provide an opportunity to talk about their shapes, and familiar things associated with the letter. Toddlers also learn quickly with hands on activities. Why not form a large /A/, and apple out of clay? Then think of things that start with the /A/ sound. Take a letter such as /S/ and match its shape with a toy snake. Use the sound a snake makes (sssss) to teach your toddler to recognize the letter and the sound that accompanies it.
Reading opens up new worlds and cultures to toddlers. Most of all, reading is a source of good, wholesome fun! Our job, as parents and teachers, is to bring books to life, and give children opportunities to experience the pleasure of reading.
This article written by Jacob Maslow, Blogger at Allergy Be Gone, retailer of Allergy Control Products .