Language skills flourish when children are surrounded by books, songs, rhymes and many opportunities for imaginative play.
Dr. Jane Hewes, Chair of the Early Childhood Program at Grant MacEwan University, says children develop complex narratives in their pretend play. In her article Let the Children Play: Nature’s answer to Early Learning, Dr. Hewes says children not only generate language suited to different perspectives and roles, they begin to link objects actions, and language together in combinations and narrative sequences.
Emergent literacy skills are developed from babyhood. Parents can:
- Start a conversation. Invite your child to think of things to talk about, and ask questions that encourage them to express ideas and observations.
- Use voice intonations when playing, and ask your child questions, inviting him to point, name or move toward whatever interests them.
- When talking to your child, give her enough time to contribute. It is also a good idea to repeat what she says, and then add a bit more to the conversation. This not only helps her learn more about what you’re discussing, it’s also encouraging to know she’s being heard.
- Read to your child. You can also make up stories to go with the pictures, and invite your child to do the same.