By KATHY SMITH
Parenting can be challenging, but it can be the most meaningful and rewarding job a person will ever day. It is important that parents talk, read and play with their children every day.
Children learn better, speak better and have more self-esteem if parents talk to their children, read to them and with them and interact in play with them from the earliest ages on into adulthood. The more parents talk to children beyond instructional conversations such as do this and do that, the more broader the child’s vocabulary.
Talk every day
Infants: Infants are learning words. Say your baby’s name often. Take turns making sounds. Babies learn how people react when making sounds. Talk to your baby at bath time, play time and feeding time. This is how your baby will learn the daily routine. Talking to your baby and help your baby learn to talk.
Toddlers: Help children learn to talk by adding words. Help your child learn new words by explaining what is happening during the day. Name your toddler’s feelings such as happy, sad and mad. Sing simple songs. Use a lot of rhyming words.
Preschoolers: Talk to your child about their day. Ask questions that begin with who, what and why. Talk about what happens during the day. Use complete sentences to describe what is about around you and your child. Ask your child “what if” or “I wonder” questions.
Read every day
Infants: Look at books together. This gives you a chance to hold and cuddle your baby. Point at pictures in books and talk about what you see. This gives your baby a chance to hear new words and learn to enjoy books. Read before nap time and bedtime. This can be a calming routine.
Toddlers: Sit closer to or hold your toddler when looking at books together. Let him choose a book, turn pages and point to pictures and words. Read your child’s favorite book over and over. Children learn words when they hear them often. Visit the library to find new books. Keep books, newspapers and magazines in your home.
Preschoolers: Have fun while you are reading books and looking at pictures. Retell stories in your own words. Listen to your children retelling stories. Point out words inside and outside of the home. Point out written words on doors, signs and boxes.
Play every day
Infants: Give your baby time to move and play with you. Look and smile at your baby. Let your baby watch your face. Play with your baby using rattles, toys and games like peek-a-boo. Talk to your baby during these activities.
Toddlers: Children learn when they play. Give your child time to explore new objects, places and people. Play outside often. Play make believe with your child using puppets, dress up clothes, pots and pans.
Preschoolers: Play with toys and create things using blocks, crayons, sandboxes and playgrounds. Follow what your child is interested in when playing together. Describe what your child is doing. Pretend to cook, clean, dress up and go to work.
Source: The Family Conservancy