Parents play a big role in helping their children develop literacy skills from the moment they’re born, and the good news is - you’re probably already doing more than you think.
Back and forth interactions, rather than formal lessons are the best way for parents to get started.
Goodstart’s national manager - speech pathology, Tiffany Noble said literacy was one of life’s most important skills.
“Research shows that people who do not develop important emergent literacy skills in early childhood can fall behind and stay behind and poor literacy skills can have a significant impact upon success at school and work,” she said.
“Literacy is closely linked to the skills we all need to interact with, influence and relate to other people.
“Talking, listening and understanding skills are very important for later literacy development. Emergent literacy develops from birth and continues through the pre-school years. Within this phase a child gains the foundational skills, knowledge and attitudes to literacy that they need before conventional reading and writing can be learnt.
“Initiating conversations with your child, from the time they are babies will help stimulate emergent literacy skills, she said.
The accumulation of everyday interactions like sharing books, telling stories, singing songs, talking to each other, or pointing out, naming and describing objects go a long way to helping your child develop literacy skills.
“To promote your child’s emergent literacy development at home I strongly encourage you to look for fun, every day opportunities,” Ms Noble said.
“Above all, enjoy spending time learning with your child as they will benefit enormously from this.”
Some of the best ways to get started include:
- Book sharing: sharing one book with lots of talking and discussion is better than reading many books quickly.
- Point out print: point to, label and look for letters, words and numbers when shopping in the supermarket.
- Signs and symbols: point out and describe different road signs and symbols when driving.
- Bath time: sing songs and rhymes to each other during bath time.
- Imitation: imitate the babbling sounds your baby makes when you change their nappy.
- Meal times: label and describe food and drink at the dinner table.
The hotline helps parents improve their own literacy skills so they can help their children learn to read and write.
Goodstart has provided the hotline with resources and information to help the staff provide practical strategies to parents who contact the hotline.
“These tips and strategies focus on the importance of back and forth interactions, oral language and use of everyday opportunities to support children’s language and literacy skills from birth,” said Ms Noble.
For more information about communication milestones for the first five years, check out, Speech Pathology Australia’s handy fact sheet