The Role of Language in Children's Early Educational Outcomes study (published in 2011) examines how a child's environment from birth through age two has an influence on future language development and performance in school. Professor James Law of Newcastle University, one of the study's researchers, explains, "One message coming through loud and clear is that how a child learns in their very early years is critical for smooth transition into the educational system."
One way to encourage reading from the start is to plan weekly visits to the local library with your wee ones. Many libraries offer story time or music programs for small children. The Role of Language in Children's Early Educational Outcomes study showed that children who are taken to the library more often when they are two years of age score higher on elementary school assessment tests than those who have not benefited from such exposure.
Make books easily accessible to chubby little fingers by putting them within reach of your toddlers. Low shelves and baskets are great places to stash books, or if you don't mind a little disorderliness, scatter a few in the high traffic play areas of your home. If you don't have a fortune to stock the shelves, most libraries sell used books for 25 or 50 cents, or you can fill your home library with reasonably priced books from garage sales or kids' consignment stores.
Read out loud to your children regularly. Morning, naptime and bedtime are great times to snuggle up and read aloud. Ask questions and talk with them about the book, making story time an enjoyable and interactive experience.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under the age of two – and for good reason. The Role of Language in Children's Early Educational Outcomes study found that extended exposure to television during the first two years lowered children's scores in elementary school.
Find books about things that interest your children. From firefighters to fairies, you're sure to find plenty of options that will engage your kids' interests and imaginations. Many books for young children will give you opportunities to take a familiar topic and teach your children new things through fantastic illustrations and expanded vocabulary. If you have a construction lover, with the right books, he'll soon be an expert on cherry-pickers, backhoes and front-loaders (and so will you).
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