The first step to promoting good reading skills is providing children a language-rich environment. This is an environment in which parents and other adults actively engage in verbal communication with a child from birth. Even the youngest child benefits from engaging in fun games of mimicking silly sounds and made-up speech. These games are most effective when the demands are kept well within the capacities of the child so that he or she succeeds and feels rewarded by the play. It is well established, even among other mammals, that “baby talk” is actually great for babies! This talk includes rising and falling intonation, lots of repetition, and parroting back the sounds your child makes. Music, singing, and reading that is melodic and comforting are wonderful for even the youngest child. You’ll know what’s working by observing your child’s response. Stay attuned, pay attention, and let your child teach you what he or she needs most when it comes to developing spoken language. The two of you will have enormous success and fun with this kind of play. Play, after all, is nature’s best teaching tool.
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