There’s nothing quite like curling up with your kid and a good book — for so many working parents, the ritual is an end-of-the-day “happy place.” Snuggly and cozy, sure, but the benefit of books goes beyond that: Many studies show that reading to young children is critical for boosting their early literacy skills.
Language and literacy develop in tandem as babies grow, and there’s a reason why young kids get so excited by books: It’s a totally new way to communicate. After all, literacy is about more than reading; it’s about communicating with, interacting with, and understanding the world.
Why Literacy Skills Are Important in Child Development
Babies’ and toddlers’ brains develop quickly — that’s why the first three years of their lives are so critical for cultivating early language and literacy. It may feel a bit ridiculous at first, but reading and talking to them as early as they’re born will have lasting effects — and even lay the foundation for their readiness for kindergarten. The goal: help your child start school with a love for books, an excitement about learning, and an ability to communicate.
Consider the opposite: When children are not exposed to books early on, they tend to struggle with learning once they start kindergarten. And that inability to learn? It often goes hand-in-hand with developmental challenges, negative self-esteem, a lack of confidence — and so on.
Storytime’s Role In Teaching Reading Skills to Young Children
The facts are clear: Reading aloud to kids is the single greatest thing you can do for them when they’re little. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ritual can stimulate patterns of brain development and strengthen your relationship.
What’s more, reading:
- Teaches basic skills that become second nature as adults.
- Helps kids develop expressive language.
- Teaches kids to interact with books the way adults do; for example, how to hold a book and how to read it from front to back and left to right.
- Imparts print awareness: the connection between words, sounds, and what’s physically written on each page.
- Introduces kids to new words and expands their vocabulary.
(For more information about language development milestones — and tips on what to do if you feel like your child isn’t progressing — check out this blog post.)
Play and Literacy: How Child Care Can Support Reading Efforts
Play, as an intrinsic, evolutionary, and cooperative activity, is central to learning, and it should remain at the forefront of any early-childhood curriculum.
At Vivvi, kids are kids, which means toddlers — well, get to play. A lot. In turn, they learn about the world around them, practice interacting with objects, and communicate with a diverse set of children and teachers . Repeated play strengthens the connection pathways in the brain and gives children the opportunity to test different reactions to the same situation. It also helps support early reading efforts by cultivating attention span, imagination, and other vital skills.
Here’s a look at some of the other ways a good child care provider can support kids’ literacy and language development:
Through active learning, children engage with other people and the world around them, in turn cultivating their language and communication skills.
Child care centers tend to be filled with books, and research shows that environments like these help develop early literacy skills.
Early Childhood Caregivers
Early childhood caregivers are trained to teach children literacy skills. They also understand how to hang back, so as not to interrupt your child during crucial learning moments. The best teachers work to stretch your child’s imagination rather than restrict it.
Group story time is great for kids and caregivers alike. Young children get to interact with others in an environment where everyone is listening and learning.
How to Shake Up Storytime
Storytime, like all rituals, can easily become a chore if you don’t make an effort to keep things playful, exciting, and fun. The following activities can help shake things up so your child — and you — stay engaged:
- Promote unstructured playtime. Studies suggest that unstructured play can boost cognitive, physical, emotional, and social kills — all essential for toddler development.
- Create your own library or writing area. Create a space that envelopes your child with literature; include puppets, markers and crayons, an alphabet chart, and books. Be sure to stock the shelves with diverse voices, perspectives, and genres — even foreign-language books can be fun and educational.
- Embrace coloring and activity books. These are great for introducing structure to child literacy. (Download Vivvi’s over here.)
- Encourage dramatic play. While all types of play are great, the creme de la creme, so to speak, is dramatic play. View our tips for incorporating it into your routine.
Provide Your Child with In-Home and On-Campus Early Learning Opportunities
Vivvi’s environments foster learning and growth and reinforce healthy habits. Our inquiry-based Learning Model, which builds curriculums around each child’s age and interests, highlights their best traits, boosts their confidence, allows them to meet their developmental milestones head-on.