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Reading & Language

Toddler Language Development Milestones

Mom reading to toddler18-36 Months: Learning to Love Books

When toddlers are introduced to the magic of books, they develop a love of reading that can last a lifetime. Language is the foundation for literacy, and you can help your toddler get ready for reading by incorporating listening and talking into everyday activities. Even though children are still developing language, reading is very important at this age. When you read to your toddler, you help her to learn about new words and concepts, learn letters, and learn about the way the printed word works. Reading to your toddler, talking about books and the printed word as much as possible, and providing many opportunities for her to experiment with writing will help her get ready to read.

Your toddler is a natural explorer, and his curiosity sparks the development of language, reading, and writing. He listens intently to adults in order to learn new words, is interested in the way language works, and experiments with using new grammar when he speaks. Toddlers love adults to read stories aloud, and they especially like to hear the same stories repeatedly. By listening to stories over and over again, your toddler learns about the way stories are built, which will help him as he gets closer to being a reader and writer.

You can help your toddler become a reader and writer by incorporating talking and reading into everyday activities. Simple actions like looking at signs as you ride the bus, looking for letters at the grocery store, reading a rhyming book together, or making a books of photos and talking about the pictures will help your child develop the language skills on which literacy is built. Below are more ways you can support your toddler as he moves towards literacy.

How to Help Your Toddler Get Ready to Read

  • Use simple language with your toddler. Make eye contact with your toddler when you talk. Speak in short, simple sentences and repeat new words that you use. When you simplify your language, you help your toddler use language correctly and learn new words.
  • Tell your child stories about real events. When you tell your toddler stories, you help her to understand the ingredients that go into them, such as a setting, characters, a plot, and dialogue. Knowing how stories are built with your child understand other stories he hears.
  • Read different kinds of books to your child. When you vary read-aloud choices, you introduce your child to books cotnaining information about many topics. Try reading nonfiction books about animals, ABC books, and rhyming books. Many children pick favorites to hear over and over again.
  • Show your toddler the letters in her name. Looking at letters with a parent helps toddlers learn them. Start with your child’s name to help her understand that letters and words represent people. Then point out letters wherever you go to help her connect them to places and objects.
  • Keep crayons with in easy reach. Toddlers begin to learn to write by scribbling and making marks on paper. Their scribbles eventually become letters. When you keep markers, crayons and paper handy and write alongside your child, you promote his writing development.

Next: Learn how listening helps toddlers develop a rich vocabulary.

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