tips for preschool parents – talk read sing

We all know that the first years of a person’s life are crucial and more than 80% of the brain is developed by 3 years old.  As parents, we want to do anything we can to nurture our kids, foster their development and get them on an early path of education.  That is why today is all about Talk. Read. Sing.® with the help of First 5 California and you!

Gabriel is my second child and he just turned 3 end of January.  He is the absolute light of my life – funny, smart and empathetic; he is a joy to be around.  In public he is total melt-downing maniac, it’s true, but the real Gabe at home or at church is a sweetheart.  This is the nature of 3 year old boys I’m told.

Gabriel has a motor speech disorder called childhood apraxia.  It hinders him from communicating and is incredibly frustrating for him (and me too, of course).  I know he feels like he is trapped in his body right now, the words he wants to say coming out totally mangled and incomprehensible.  The last 6 months, he has shown a ton of improvement but it has been a lot of work for everyone involved!  Besides the speech therapy, I have found what helps him most is what every toddler/pre-k parent should be doing and here they are:

  1. read together, every day.  I know, it can be hard to get really young kids to sit still and listen.  My son isn’t very great at that either, but it is important to try.  Bedtime is the perfect time since they are tired from the day and more likely to sit still.  Remember to “read together” by asking them to identify words and ask their thoughts on the story (like predicting what will happen next).
  2. read it again.  It is great to have a big library of books to choose from, but some studies show that repeated, familiar reading is exceptionally helpful for speech development (and really all language skills).
  3. share your love of reading.  There isn’t anything better IMO than watching your child develop a love for reading.  Turn the TV off and read a book of your own.  This teaches kids that reading outside of school is fun/cool and shows them your dedication to getting through larger books.  This has been very impactful with my older child and I’ve noticed every time I pick up my current book, she goes and gets hers too!
  4. don’t redo what they’ve done.  It is important for kids to trust in their abilities.  Going back behind them and correcting everything from spelling errors, not solving a toy correctly, painting the wrong color or making the bed poorly will only discourage them from being autonomous.  No reason to be perfect yet!
  5. prioritize play.  Kids need to have unstructured playtime to create and enjoy imaginative play.  Provide a variety of toys, dress up clothing, arts & craft supplies and ideas, but let them be kids – “go play” is a phrase you should be saying!  Bonus points for outdoor exploration.
  6. talk, read and sing.  All the time!

I’m an avid reader and writer for fun.  I also make my living as a writer.  This comes from my parents being really exceptional teachers and encouragers.  I was allowed to read any genre I wanted – it didn’t matter if it was the great classics or comic books.  It didn’t matter to them, as long as I was reading.  I thank them for this and hope to give my own kids the same message.  Outside of a comic book store, I had probably the largest Archie Comics collection and when I wasn’t reading those, I was reading R.L.Stine.  Not the “greatest” literature, but it kept me interested and expanding my vocabulary.  It all began though, with my parents reading to me every night!

The great thing about 2016 is that there are SO many wonderful resources for parents online.  First 5 California is a website full of free information, activities and ideas for you to talk, read and sing to your kids.  Download a new book or cookbook, or try these homemade bubbles or this homemade playdough!  Books and learning apps are crucial to an early education, but don’t forget activities that stretch the mind and increase exploration.  Find all kids of resources for babies, toddlers and preschoolers at First 5 California!

How do you talk, read, and sing to your kids?

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