In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive world, there is a lot of pressure for parents to enrol their child, earlier and earlier, into preschool and pre-kindergarten classes, and before they even enter kindergarten, to teach them the alphabet, numbers, and how to spell their name. Surprisingly, there are no studies as of yet to prove that if you learn to read in those early years, you’re going to have an advantage in school.
We do know, however, that language and social development in the early years lay the foundations for literacy skills and success as an adult.
We encourage you, the caregiver, to empower your little ones with the knowledge and skills to build the ‘scaffolding’ for their language, thinking, and social skills—which are essential for learning to read and write—rather than encouraging you to teach your toddlers to read.
Language development is the first step and the basis for literacy. By age three or four your child’s language ability will strongly predict their literacy skills and learning success throughout school and life.
With these facts in mind, we know that a child’s early environment and experiences significantly impact their language and literacy development. This learning begins at birth.
Infants instinctively respond to sounds and begin vocalizing. Children raised in nurturing, language-rich homes will develop better vocabularies and literacy skills; home environment plays a vital role in your child’s literacy learning. Parents and/or caregivers are the child’s first and best teachers! You are the expert and in the best position to teach and guide your child.
The bond between you and your child is fundamental in the child’s brain development. By exposing your child to vocabulary, rhythm, rhyme, and body language—through actions or active play—you are not only developing an amazing relationship with your child, you are creating brain pathways, connections, and brain development.
Repetition of rhymes and songs strengthen these pathways and connections. Additionally, you feel more confident and competent as you help in your child’s literacy and social development, resulting in being more actively involved with your child and your child’s learning.
As an added bonus, songs, rhymes, and actions are useful in reducing stressful or frustrating moments for toddlers (and for you), and also help to make smoother transitions between activities throughout the day.
Tips to get you started on your rhyme discovery path:
- Go back to basics. The songs that were your favourites as a child will also be enjoyable to your child, and believe it or not, are still children’s favourites today.
- Start with short, simple rhymes. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and The Wheels on the Bus are good examples.
- Most importantly… have fun with rhyming! There is no wrong way to sing, especially when you and your child are having fun and bonding!
- Optional: drop in to a Rhymes that Bind program and have fun learning rhymes and actions with your child
Here is a rhyme to get you started:
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear touch the ground.
Teddy Bear reach up high.
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear say Good Bye.
To find an Edmonton Rhymes that Bind program near you, check out the Centre for Family Literacy website. We are excited to meet everyone and have fun singing!