Real talk about making read-aloud time a positive experience for your child AND for you!

Perhaps you already know that it’s never too early to begin reading to your child, that you can begin reading to them from the moment they’re born. Since 80% of a child’s brain development happens during the first three years of life, it’s important that parents and caregivers begin as early as possible!

But this message of reading to babies and very young children may seem impractical. After all, babies can’t yet understand the meaning of words or comprehend a story. Toddlers often can’t sit still from the first page of a book to the last. Young children interrupt, ask lots of questions, and are easily distracted.

Maybe you’ve tried read-aloud time and you don’t think you have the patience for it. We understand. Read-aloud time may feel more like a chore than a cherished moment. That's why we want to provide real-life tips for real parents with real kids (yes, the ones who squirm and interrupt and are easily distracted.)

If you don’t remember anything else, remember this: Give your child a happy, positive experience with books! Here are 6 ways to make read-aloud time a happy time:

1. Let them experience what a book is.

Everything is brand new to a baby! You are the first one who introduces your child to everything about a book. They see that books open and that pages turn. They hear words as you turn the pages. Their eyes learn to focus on pictures. They learn that books are to be held and touched. Books provide valuable sensory experiences for children and you get to be the first one who provides these important experiences. 

2. You don’t need to read the words. Point to the pictures and talk about what you see.

This is an especially good way of experiencing books with infants and young toddlers. You don’t need to read the words on the pages. Instead, simply describe what is happening in the pictures. Talk about the colors, shapes, and what the characters are doing. Point to the page when you do this. Your baby simply loves the sound of your voice and taking in the pictures they see. They also love being close to you.

3. You don’t need to finish a book.

When the focus is on reading every word and finishing every page, a young child may become bored and you may become frustrated. You don’t want them to associate books with boredom and frustration.

If you sense that your child is becoming restless, if he wants to skip ahead or move on to another activity, that’s okay! As they get older, they will be able to engage with a book for longer stretches of time. Each child is different. Don’t compare your two-year-old's attention span to another child the same age. Just a few minutes with a book matters more than you realize.

4. Read the books they love, even if it’s the same books over and over (and over) again.

Children love repetition and it’s actually good for their brain development. Repetition helps with vocabulary, word recognition, pattern, rhythm, word fluency, comprehension, and confidence. Read more about this here: Why Reading the Same Book Repeatedly Is Good for Kids (Even If It Drives You Nuts)

Keep introducing new books here and there, but know that it’s okay if you’ve read Goodnight Moon 387 times. : )

5. Read with expression!

There are so many ways to do this. Let your voice reflect what’s going on in the story. Use a different voice for different characters. Speak in a squeaky voice, a whisper voice, or a loud voice. Young children are full of joy, enthusiasm, and curiosity! They love it when the grown-ups in their lives get on their level have fun.

6. Think of read-aloud moments as a time of to “Maximize Love and Manage Stress.” (Basic #1)

One of the best things about reading to your child is the love they feel during these special moments! Parents, these moments can be special for you too. Pausing for just 5-15 minutes from the stress and distractions of daily life to snuggle and read with a child can be exactly what you need in the midst of a busy or challenging day. 

Moms, Dads, and Caregivers—you got this! When your goal is to keep read-aloud time positive for your child and for you, when you remember that it’s just fine to keep it simple and short and snuggly, you’re more likely to make read-aloud time a daily habit.

All of those 5-15 minute reading times sure do add up over the early years! The more we read with young children, the more prepared they become to enjoy reading and to do well in school.

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #5, "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

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3 Simple Ways for Busy Parents to Make Books Part of Everyday Life!

It is never too early to begin reading! Stories engage a child's imagination and expose them to words and ideas. What they learn about people, places, and things can be important building blocks to school readiness and later life success. For both parents and children, times together with books form fond and lasting memories.

Any time that your young child spends with books is time well spent!

But in a fast-paced world where parents and caregivers are juggling so many responsibilities, you may feel that you don’t have the time and energy to read with your child as much as you'd like.

Here are 3 simple suggestions for making books part of everyday life:

1. Make “book time” part of your child’s bedtime routine.

Routines make children feel secure. Knowing what to expect helps them feel safe and happy. Whether it’s naptime or bedtime, when you weave books into your child's rest-time rhythm, you're creating a soothing transition to sleep. As your child begins to expect read-aloud time, books will naturally become part of your daily routine.

Even when you're tired and have had an especially hectic day, these moments with your child can be a special and needed way to calm and connect. (This is a great way to do Basic #1: Maximize Love, Manage Stress.)

Remember, if you’re reading to your baby or young child, don’t worry about finishing the book or whether they understand what you’re reading. What is important is that they hear your words, see the pictures, and start to develop positive feelings about books.

2. Keep books handy.

This sounds simple, but that's what makes it doable!

When you keep board books in the car, your child can enjoy them while they ride. You don’t always have to read to your child; let them enjoy books independently. As your child turns the pages, looks at the pictures, and babbles, they're developing important pre-reading skills!

When you keep a book in your tote bag, waiting rooms and checkout lines turn everyday moments into learning opportunities.
Instead of handing your child a phone or iPad, hand them a book. Reading with them means that you have to put down your own device, but when you begin to see waiting time as reading time, you may discover that you have more time than you thought to read to your child.

When books are always within reach—whether in your home or on the go—you and your child will indeed reach for them more!

3. Love your local library.

Sometimes the library seems too good to be true. Think about it—thousands of free books, plush chairs to read in, weekly storytimes and literacy activities for young children. Your local library is a treasure!

Making a weekly or monthly trip to the library can become a happy and anticipated outing for you and your child. Little ones love to discover new books and pull them one by one off the shelf for you to read. Whether you read at the library, check out books for home, or enjoy a special preschool program, library visits are a simple and special way to encourage a love for books!

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Just 15 minutes of reading a day can have a powerful impact on your child’s brain development, school readiness, and even their emotional regulation. Have fun, keep it simple, and know that the moments you and your child spend with books will have lasting benefits!

For more ideas, visit the "Read and Discuss Stories" page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #5, "Read and Discuss Stories" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


The Basics of Exploring through Movement and Play with Your Baby and Toddler

Movement and play build your child's coordination, strength, and overall health. It's also how children explore and learn about the world. Each stage of development comes with new and exciting opportunities for learning!

Here are 3 simple ways to make movement and play part of daily life with your little one:

1. Give them things to handle, and encourage everyday discovery.

When you provide objects of different colors, shapes, and textures to play with, you’re helping your child develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Use safe and simple items from your home; you don’t need fancy toys to keep your baby’s attention!

Babies and toddlers discover how the world works by interacting with the objects around them. They reach for things because they’re naturally curious; they want to see what objects do and feel like. For example, your toddler may reach for a spoon and drop it over and over to see what will happen (and because they learn through repetition.)

Watch and assist as they explore the world around them, knowing that this is how they learn!

2. Give them time and space to move their body.

There's a reason young children have boundless energy and are wired to move. Science shows that for a child's brain to fully mature, it needs stimulation through movement and sensory experiences. An infant might explore by touching, grasping, chewing, or crawling. A toddler might explore by walking or climbing.

Physical activity and curiosity don't simply build a strong body; they build a strong brain!

Give your infant regular “tummy time.” When they lift their head to look around, they strengthen the upper body and prepare muscles to crawl. They also get a new view of their surroundings!

For a baby, “play” may look like reaching for a small toy or shaking a rattle, both of which build coordination.

For a toddler, “play” may look like pouring water in the bath, building with blocks, playing hide and seek, and rolling a ball.

3. Remember that YOU are your baby’s favorite plaything, especially during the first months of life.

A baby’s development depends on human interaction. Your face, voice, and responsiveness to their needs are more important to their development than the latest and greatest toys on the market. As your child engages with the world around him, talk and point as he reaches for a toy, play peek-a-boo as you change her diaper, sing during bath-time. These fun, simple, powerful activities are what The Basics are all about!

For more ideas, visit the “Explore Through Movement and Play” page at www.palmettobasics.org.

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #4, "Explore through Movement and Play" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


3 Everyday Ways to Talk About Math with Little Ones

The Basics are 5 fun, simple, and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life! The third Basic has to do with math and you may be thinking: “But I’m not a math person!”

Never fear. Basic #3, Count, Group, and Compare, is already part of your daily life with your baby or toddler. You just don’t realize it. Think about the words you use each day as you talk with your child:

Let’s go up the stairs.

Your diaper bag is heavy.

Eat three more bites and you can get down from the table.

In everyday ways, you are already nurturing an understanding of basic math concepts!

Becoming good at math begins long before a child enters school. Even infants are wired to learn simple math ideas, including small numbers, patterns, and making comparisons. YOU have all that you need to prepare your child to be a problem solver. One of the easiest ways to build math skills is to use “math language” as you go through your daily routines.

Here are 3 simple ways to begin:

1. Count out loud. Children can count strings of numbers before they understand what numbers mean. Toddlers and young children LOVE to count. Seize their enthusiasm by making counting part of your everyday life.

- If you’re walking to the mailbox, “Let’s count as we walk!”

- As you push her on the swing, count in rhythm with each push.

- When you snap his onesie or pajamas, count with each snap.

 2. Connect numbers to groups of things. This begins to teach them that numbers represent things, that "3" (for example) stands for 3 blocks. Here are simple ways to help your child connect numbers to groups of things.

- As you’re getting groceries, “How many apples am I getting? 1-2-3. 3 apples!”

- When it's bedtime, “Go get two books and we can read them.”

- If your baby is eating in her high chair, “Let’s count your Cheerios. 1-2-3-4.” Then group them into a cluster a 4.

- When you’re changing your baby’s diaper or putting on his socks, “Let’s count your toes! 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.”

 3. Talk about size, distance, and shapes. This helps children learn important concepts about measurement, space, and shape. Being mindful of these concepts will help you talk to your child in ways that are intentional, but still simple.

- When you're loading groceries into the car, “This bag is heavy! Can you hold it and feel how heavy it is?”

- As you’re walking outside, “Wow, that is a big leaf! Can you find a smaller leaf?”

- To talk about concepts like distance, “We have a long walk to the park, don’t we? Is the walk to the mailbox long or short?”

- Begin pointing out shapes wherever you go and your child will begin to do the same. “The tires on our car are a circle. Do you see something that’s a circle?”

There are countless ways to use math language throughout your day. You don’t have to set aside extra time or buy fancy educational toys. By including your child in everyday activities, talking about the things you see, touch, and do, you are building a valuable foundation for math!

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are doing Basic #3, "Count, Group, and Compare," in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!


The Brain-Changing Power of Talking, Singing, and Pointing During Your Baby’s First Year!

Children learn language from the moment they are born. Day by day, babies learn that sounds have meaning. Every time you talk, sing, or point, you provide clues to the meaning of your words.

We neglect the power and significance of interactions like talking, singing and pointing because they seem so simple. But simplicity is what makes them so wonderful. Anyone can talk, sing, or point when interacting with a baby or young child.

Researchers found that when mothers communicate with their newborns, babies learn almost 300 more words by the age of two than toddlers whose mothers rarely spoke to them.

This is why “Talking, Singing and Pointing” is the second of the 5 Basics.

Here are tips on everyday ways to interact with your young child at each stage of language development during the first year! *

Birth – 3 months:

Talk as you go about your daily routine –as you change her diaper, give him a bath, ride in the car, or cuddle up for feeding time. Remember, your voice is your baby’s favorite sound!  

Sing! From nursery rhyme songs to your favorite tune on the radio, singing to your baby helps stimulate the brain and make important neural connections.

Don’t worry that your baby doesn’t comprehend what you’re saying or singing. This stage is simply about exposure to language. Eventually, your baby will begin to make connections and understand that words have meaning.

3 to 6 Months:

As you continue to talk and sing to your baby, he is learning how to “talk” back in the form of coos and giggles and mimicking simple sounds.

When your baby talks, you can imitate the sound and wait for him to respond. You may discover that he tries to makes the same sound you make. If he does, smile and make the sound again. These sweet exchanges between you and your baby are the important beginnings of conversation!

6-9 Months:

Your baby may begin to say simple words like “baba” and “dada.” She can also respond to emotion. A happy voice may make her smile and an angry voice may make her appear unhappy.

During this stage, your baby can enjoy interactive games like “pat-a-cake.” (As you sing, take her hands and teach her how to pat yours.) Give her simple objects like a stuffed animal and say, “Can you pat the doggie? He feels soft.”

Look in the mirror and point to her, saying, “Who is that?” She may lean in to touch herself in the mirror. You can respond, “That’s Kate!”

Have fun during this stage as you play games, ask questions, and point to objects while naming them. Everything is brand new to your child and they love learning about the exciting world around them. Simple, daily interactions are building the brain in powerful ways!

9 to 12 Months

It’s amazing how brilliant your baby has become in just 9-12 short months. Imagine your tiny newborn. Now consider the fact that he is already communicating with gestures and simple words!

If you say “no,” your baby will stop and look at you. If you ask where someone is, he will look around to find them.” He may point to an object, curious to know what it is, or notice a favorite animal and make the sound that animal makes.

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Your baby’s language development depends on how much people talk to them. Every time you talk, sing, or point, you’re providing important information to their brains about how language works.

As your child develops, talking with them and answering their questions is a way to teach them about the world. By talking with them, you will also get to know the fascinating person they are becoming. Remember that you are your child’s first and most important teacher!

The Basics are 5 fun, simple and powerful ways that every parent can give every child a great start in life!

 Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

  • Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents are "Talking, Singing, and Pointing" in everyday life. Click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.
  • Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.
  • Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!
  • If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! palmettobasics@gmail.com.

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence! 

 

*These tips on early language development adapted from resources at Zero to Three.

 

 


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