Early Literacy Skills are skills that children need before they begin to learn to read.  There are 5 simple practices that you can do to help your child develop these skills.

singSinging songs is a great way to learn about language.  Songs slow down language so children can hear the smaller sounds in words.  Songs can also teach new words, introduce new ideas and concepts, and develop listening and memory skills.  Sing with your child any chance you get and don’t worry if you don’t have a perfect singing voice!

Baby chewing bookFor BABIES, sing everywhere you can: in the car, in the grocery store, even while changing a diaper! Other things you should do:

  • Sing familiar songs like those from your childhood.
  • Put your baby on your lap or on a blanket on the floor and look into their eyes when you sing.  Also, lightly tap their arm or leg as you sing so they can feel the beat.
  • Sing the same quiet song at bedtime.  Repetition and routines are good for young children and they will know it’s time for sleep.

Mom daughter readingFor TODDLERS, music is a natural part of life so continue to sing through your day and about daily activities, like brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, eating breakfast, etc.  Make up your own songs using familiar tunes like “Happy Birthday” or “Row, Row, Row your boat”. Other things you should do:

  • Sing, dance and help your child move her body to the beat.  Movement enhances learning so gently bounce, wiggle, wave or clap to the rhythm.
  • Give your child a spoon and a box and let him make up his own music.  Help him find the beat or make up a song using his rhythm.
  • Singing is a great way to learn new words.  Sing a song like “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and point to each body part as its mentioned.

Preschool boy with book

For PRESCHOOLERS, check out some of favorite local musicians and introduce your family to some new music.  Also, don’t forget to share your own favorite music with your kids! Other things you should do:

  • Take a familiar song and mix it up a little.  Sing it faster, sing it slower or substitute words with some of your child’s favorite things or characters.
  • Practice musical “patterns” by using a rhythm instrument or your hands.  Play or clap short rhythmic patterns and invite your child to echo what you just played.
  • When riding in the car, let your child choose the songs that you play or sing.  Give them the chance to be “in charge”, they will love it!

For more info and ideas: Center for Early Literacy Learning Parents Guide