A child’s development begins at birth, and literacy is no different. Improving babies’ and toddlers’ language and basic literacy at a young age can have many benefits to building a foundation for literacy skills that will help prepare them for the future. The language and literacy skills learned during early childhood are often referred to as emergent literacy skills.

According to The Hanen Center, “emergent literacy can be divided into two sets of skills: meaning-related skills and code-related skills. Meaning related skills have to do with building an understanding of what is written in a book. Code-related skills are the skills that will help children understand that the squiggly lines they see on a page are actually letters and words that have meaning.”

Here are our top 5 tips to support emergent literacy skills and help set up young children for success in future language and literacy.

  • Don’t be afraid to introduce new words to their vocabulary. Try switching up the words you normally use with synonyms. Narrating normal tasks out loud (I am cleaning dust from the shelf) can also help expand your toddler’s language and literacy.
  • Correct grammar or pronunciation mistakes without focusing on what was wrong. If your child has a hard time saying library, respond with a sentence that includes library so that they can hear the correct pronunciation.
  • Read the books together often. For younger children, stories that have many repeating phrases or words, such as Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Eric Carle, can help them  “learn new words and pronunciations through repetition.”
  • Incorporate the alphabet and letter identification into fun games and activities. Whether writing letters in shaving cream for a sensory activity or jumping on pillows with letters on them, it’s easy to include literacy skills into everyday activities.
  • Point out the pictures in the books you read together and compare them to real-life items. “Within their first 18 months, most infants who have explored and shared books with adults show an understanding that pictures symbolize things in the real world, an understanding that is uniquely human,” says the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Seasonal changes for young children can be a great way to learn new adjectives and weather terms. Start reading together today and check out our list of Top 12 Children’s Books for Preschoolers this Winter.