It’s cliché! But oh so true. Parents— really are a child’s first teacher. It is amazing to watch tiny babies grow physical and mature into walking and running little people in less than 12 months. It’s equally amazing to not only experience but influence the miracle of understanding and talking. From the first babble of sounds to the uttering of recognizable words and then real sentences. Infant communication is a miracle. But it only happens with parents who take the time to interact.
Parents and caregivers who take the time to listen, coo, talk, read, sing, and play games with their babies are teaching important language skills that will set children up for success. Success in school is related to the acquisition of vocabulary. Preschoolers who have increased vocabulary do better in school. That sounds really simple! ISU Extension has a helpful publication called “Understanding Children-Language Development”. (PM-1529f). The publication has some great parent tips on ways to nurture child language skills as well as assessing your child’s typical developmental language skills.
Finger plays can be a great way to interact with infants and toddlers. Try out the “Old Owl” finger play, included in the publication. Don’t worry if you can’t sing. I don’t know any infants that care about your lack of pitch. Remember some of your favorite finger plays from childhood. My grandmother had some good ones that I still remember including—“Here is the church…Here is the steeple”? Or how about “Fly Away Jack, Fly Away, Jill”. What are some of your favorites?