For Parents


Help Children Build Strong Language Skills

Tips to work with your child to build a strong vocabulary and other language skills.

•    Listen as much as you talk

•    Talk about things your child is already interested in.

•    Make a conversation longer by adding new information or asking a follow-up question.

•    Make a point of introducing your children to other adults or children, telling one another their names.

•    Use meal time to ask about the day’s events.

•    Use drive time.  (Turn off the radio.)

•    Reread familiar stories, and talk about the book.

•    Follow the child’s lead, and encourage a train of thought he or she already has.

•    Comment on what your child is doing.  “Oh, you made a big house!”

•    Sing with your child

•    Ask a variety of questions in conversation.  (Who, What, Where, Why, What do you think?)

Read to Children

Reading to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand written words. Reading to a child has been proven to improve cognitive skills and aid in cognitive development.  If you read just three books a day for one year, you will have read 1000 books to your child(ren)!  

Start early--reading together when babies are as young as 4 months old increases the chances that parents continue reading to babies as they get older. Beginning early is important because the roots of language are developing in a baby's brain even before he can talk!

Make it fun--while reading to your child, make predictions, ask questions, answer children's questions, read with enthusiasm and use different voices for different characters.  This will make reading a fun learning experience and make them want to read even more!


Meaningful Writing Experiences

Reading and writing go hand in hand. Help your child with writing by providing opportunities to practice writing skills by helping them write their name as well as lists and stories.

Provide lots of writing materials: 

·         Have lots of paper and different kinds of paper available and accessible (for example, in the child’s room and in a play area).

·         Have lots of pencils, crayons, markers available and accessible.

·         Provide children with blank books to draw and write in.

·         Provide children with office forms, phone message pads, smaller notebooks and pocket calendars.


Create reasons for your child to write:

Of course younger children won’t be able to actually write.  The point is to ask them to try, help them if they ask (but don’t do it for them), encourage them to pretend to write (just like Mommy or Daddy does) and praise any effort.  Here are some specific suggestions:

·         Ask your child to put their name on all art work or other creations.

·         Have children make lists of things they want to remember, or simply to imitate you when you have a list.

·         Ask children to write a note for a sibling, friend, grandparent or child care provider.

·         Encourage a daily writing experience by giving children a diary and having them write in it at a regular time.  (Younger children can just scribble.  Older children can perhaps draw a picture and describe things that happened.)

·         Help note children's schedules on a calendar.  What will they be doing this week?  Important upcoming events can be noted.


Make writing part of their play:

  Children love to pretend.  Add a writing element to pretend play, such as:

·         Office or home play should include paper and pencils.

·         A pretend restaurant can include children creating menus and taking orders on note paper.

·         Provide envelopes and paper and encourage letter writing as one way pretend characters can communicate with one another.