Advice and strategies to help your children read
BABY STEPS TO READING
Editor's Note: Jerdine Nolen continues her series on language development skills. Her column appears biweekly.
During the first year of life, a baby makes many incredible changes. He is learning all the time. A baby begins life helpless, needing a great deal of love and attention from hiscaregivers. And as his needs are attended (comfort, safety, food and love), the baby continues to change. Almost overnight, he pulls together all of his forces and emerges as his true self: the explorer of the world around him! This crawling infant is on a mission to seek treasures more precious than gold -- rational and solid connections with the adults in his life. Interactions with our children help them navigate through life and show them how to live in the world.
Crawlers and Walkers (8-18 months):
* Understand and respond to gestures, facial expressions and changes in voice tones.
* Respond to their names, music and simple questions such as, "Where's Mommy?"
* Understand a few words and simple directions.
* Will give you a toy if asked for it.
* Can say simple first words and create long, babbling sentences.
* Look at picture books with interest and turn pages in sturdy books.
What you can do to help your child learn language:
* Read and tell stories to your child every day.
* Make reading a shared experience.
* Hold your baby on your lap when you read to them so they can see the pictures.
* Point to pictures and name objects.
* Provide books that are safe to touch and taste (cloth, vinyl, and washable).
* Play relaxing and fun music tapes.
* Use puppets, dolls and other toys as story props.
* Provide play materials that match your baby's skill and interest.
* Let your baby use a "play" telephone.
A resident of Ellicott City, Jerdine Nolen is the award-winning children's author of "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm" and "Raising Dragons." She is a former teacher and administrator in elementary education, and has personally field-tested her suggestion on her son and daughter.
Check out the library
As the school year winds down and finals start stressing out your kids, the library can offer both a quiet place for study and a refuge from the summer heat. It is the most important place to nurture reading outside of the home and school. From the American Library Association, here are some activities gathered from "10 Ways Kids Connect @ The Library":
* Keep a list of your child's most perplexing questions and take it to the library to help her find the answers.
* Take advantage of computers and classes that teach the skills they need for the 21st century.
* Be sure to introduce your child to librarians and encourage them to ask for assistance.
* Don't forget that the library carries popular children's magazines filled with stories, games and other fun activities.
* Introduce preschool-age children to the fun of reading through story hours and other programs.
* Check out books on tape
* Before going to Blockbuster, browse through the library's selection of classic films and current features available at nominal fees or for free.
On Wednesdays: The Just for Kids section with read-aloud story, puzzles and poster
The Sun's readers tell their success stories and offer tips on encouraging children to read.
Cap off the day and get set for bed with a good book
"Read right before bedtime. Finish everything else first. It's a good time to slow down. Offer a variety of books and let them choose the story."
Be expressive when reading
"When reading to your babies and small children, be expressive, animated and fun. Make sure there's plenty of eye contact. It's a positive source of feedback from the children to me."
Role models are important
"Set a special time and place to read to [and with] your children. Help them realize that reading is a truly enjoyable experience. Older siblings should be reading at the same place and time as a role model."
The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on sunspot.net, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.