Early Literacy Tips for Parents

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Many parents start trying to teach their children about reading by the time they are two or three years old. However, studies show that early literacy should begin in infancy. This is because babies understand a lot more than many would give them credit for, and they can pick up on signals around them simply by hearing voices and watching body language.

Babies thrive on hearing and using sounds, sound patterns, and even spoken words. The earlier they have these experiences, the earlier they can learn how to read and write. This will prepare them for success when they head off to school.

If you are the parent or caregiver of an infant, now is the time to help them begin learning various early literacy skills. First, of course, you can start out by reading to them.

But not all early literacy training involves reading. You can get little ones on the right track to literacy, including storytelling, sign language, and music, which are great ways to foster brain development.

Today we are going to take a look at some of the best early literacy tips for parents. Let’s get started.

Why is Early Literacy so Important?

For a child’s brain to develop properly, literacy skills must be introduced as early as possible. This is not something that should wait until a child is ready to enter school.

Early literacy can begin in infancy when they are learning how to talk. Reading and writing can be introduced very early, which will help them succeed in school and in many other areas of their lives.

Preparation for the Future

Many people say that early literacy begins pretty much at birth. However, the earlier early literacy begins, the better because these skills are critical to a child’s future in education.

In fact, studies show that children who aren’t proficient readers by the time they reach the fourth grade are four times more likely to not graduate from high school.

The fourth grade is also when students move from learning how to read to learning by reading. If a student is not reading at the fourth-grade level by the time they reach that grade, they have a better chance of falling behind their classmates.

There is also the risk that they could fall farther behind in other subjects, including math and science.

A Foundation for Learning

Literacy is the foundation for early, so it only makes sense that literacy education begins as early in life as possible. In fact, development in early literacy happens in the first three years of a child’s life. It helps to support development in language, reading, and writing. It also helps with learning in general.

If a child cannot read, it will be impossible for them to truly learn. Moreover, a lack of literacy skills can lead to doing poorly in many other subjects. After all, they need to have the ability to read the material and understand what they are reading.

Studies show that students who struggle with reading comprehension face much more frustration in understanding many other basic concepts. This, in turn, can lead to a lack of self-confidence. They may even lose interest in their studies and fall behind their peers.

Reading Fosters Empathy

It is so true that reading opens many doors. Early exposure to literacy can help children learn more about their world and the people around them.

In fact, research shows that the types of books children read, particularly fiction, can help influence how children interact with others. It can help them to be more understanding and empathetic and help to create a healthy and happy environment.

Literacy skills teach children how to be more understanding of others. It fosters empathy and shows children that everyone is different from one another yet still has feelings that should be respected.

Without reading skills, it can be difficult for children to learn empathy. This is particularly true if they are not taught to be empathetic by parents and educators.

What Does Early Literacy Entail?

Early literacy development involves teaching infants and toddlers about books, words, the relationships between sounds and letters, developing vocabulary, reading comprehension, and so much more.

The sooner a child is introduced to the world of reading, the sooner they can begin to learn many more things.

First, they learn about the world around them. They learn how to make connections between sounds and written words. As a matter of fact, when literacy is introduced to an infant, it isn’t long before they can make those all-important learning connections.

Back-and-forth interactions between parents and infants can begin almost immediately. What is serve-and-return?

Basically, it involves interactions that help to build an infant’s mind. These interactions are back-and-forth between parents, caregivers, educators, and babies. You might be surprised to learn just how much an infant can take in and retain.

The importance of serve-and-return is excellent. Let’s say your baby makes a noise or a gesture. Your response to the noise or gesture is a similar gesture. Your baby will make the connection between what they do and what you do.

So, it only stands to reason that sharing words, songs, books, etc., will bring about many serve-and-return interactions. These are more than just loving moments. These are the building blocks for a child’s future.

Early Literacy Tips for Parents

Promoting Literacy and Language in Infancy

There are so many ways that you can teach your baby many forms of language. Reading, speaking, and singing are among the best and most positive ways to do so. Let’s look at some ideas to help parents with early literacy with infants.

Talk to Infants

When you are doing something with an infant, talk to them about what you are doing. They may not understand your words at this stage, but they will learn how to connect the words with the actions over time.

For instance, if you are changing their diaper, tell them how you are doing it and why. This will go far when it comes to helping your child develop vocabulary.

Talk Baby Talk

Some people say people shouldn’t “baby talk” with infants. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Babies make sounds known as babble.

You can imitate these sounds and then turn those sounds into actual words. This is going to help your baby to learn how to recognize language. Over time, your baby will start connecting the sounds and what the sounds mean.

Rhyme Time

Rhyming is a wonderful way to introduce early literacy to infants. Whenever possible, use gentle touch in combination with rhyming. For example, if you are bathing your infant, make up little rhymes about each body part you are washing. The touching will only serve to reinforce the words and verses.

Reward Those First Sounds

When your baby starts trying to make sounds, reward them with hugs and/or smiles. This positive interaction will excite the baby and encourage them to continue trying.

Help Them With Words

When your baby begins to talk, help them learn the words for everything in their environment. When you label things and keep repeating the words, your child will remember what they have been taught.

Tell Stories

Storytelling is wondrous, particularly for little ones. Babies may not understand the words initially, but they understand your actions. When you smile, nod, repeat words, and use emotion to tell them stories, they will pick up on these things and learn from them accordingly.

Don’t Worry about Repeating Yourself

While we may get bored reading the same books repeatedly, babies tend to love hearing the same stories repeatedly. In fact, the more you repeat a story, the more a baby will learn it and eventually be able to master it and tell it themselves once they learn to speak.

Encourage Participation

Your baby can participate in storytelling, even if they are not yet able to speak. In the beginning, they may just be able to add sound effects. Encourage them to continue doing so.

Stories don’t just have to be words, either. Be sure to use facial expressions, vocal inflections, and other methods of communication. Over time, they will start repeating words and phrases and understand them.

Introduce Them to Books

Books should be a part of a baby’s routine as soon as possible. Even though they may not understand what they are hearing right now, they will know that when a book comes out, this means that there is going to be some quality time with mommy and/or daddy.

In addition, babies love picture books, so make sure you have plenty. Show them the pictures, and talk about what is in the pictures. It won’t be long before they connect the sounds you make (your words) with the pictures.

Let Baby Participate

As your baby grows and develops, they will want to be more hands-on with activities, including reading. This starts early. For example, babies love to put books in their mouths.

Make sure you get them sturdy board books or books with pages made from waterproof materials specifically for infants. Let them turn the pages while you read to them.

Ask Them Questions

Once your baby learns to form words, you can start conversing with them. When you are reading to them, start asking questions. For instance, if there is a picture of an apple, ask them what the object in the picture is. This is going to be the foundation of their early reading skills.

Keep Books Around the Home

It is essential that babies and young children always have access to books. Keep as many books as possible around your home, and make sure that they are not only visible but also accessible, even if you aren’t reading with them. This will allow your baby to pick up a book whenever they wish and encourage them to open up books and see what is inside.

Visit the Library

Did you know that young children can be issued library cards? There are so many free resources at your local library, and these resources can go a long way to foster the love of reading in infants and young children.

In addition, there are usually several free programs for parents and babies, toddlers, and young children that promote reading through books, songs, etc.

Read Daily

To foster early literacy, reading to your children daily is essential. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to establish a routine. This will give them something to look forward to (and you as well) and get them into the habit of reading daily.

Reread Favorite Stories

Children learn through repetition. So, it only makes sense that they will learn when you read their favorite stories to them repeatedly. By the time they are toddlers, they can usually speak complete sentences, especially those they have repeatedly heard.


The sooner you begin reading to your child, the better off they will be for it. Reading is more than just a way to promote literacy. It is an excellent opportunity for parent/child bonding, and if there is a routine, you and your baby will always have something special to look forward to each day.

Reading to your child from infancy will go a long way to helping them in their education. It will benefit them in many ways, from learning empathy to basic motor skills. You will never regret instilling a love of books and reading in your child. Your adult son or daughter will likely pass that gift on to their own children.

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