Literacy Development

Getting Your Toddler to Talk

A toddler is a young child who is of the age of learning to walk, between infancy and childhood. Toddling usually begins between the ages of 12 and 18 months.  Depending on nature and nurture, the toddler will reach the point where he utters one word sentences:  mama, dada, want, see, etc. Being supportive and loving at this stage enables the child to become trusting and self assured.  Listed below  are  a dozen fun things  to do with a toddler. Paired with talk and laughter, these fun activities can  contribute to learning that can soon show itself in  the child’s development of various skill·  Color and draw –  Forget coloring books. Provide the child with large sheets of newsprint paper and felt tip markers. The child’s drawing  will look like scribbles, but this early form of writing activity develops the child’s fine motor coordination. Talk about the “writing”  that is produced and develop  the child’s self confidence in his  ability to write.

Toss bean bags in a bucket – paired with talk from the  caretaker “Can you get it IN the bucket,”   “OOH it went to the side of the bucket?, “ etc. can help the child develop an understanding of basic concepts  ( in, out, over,  etc) while enhancing large motor skills. Understanding comes before production. Soon the child will be able to use these words in 2 word sentences.

Adapted from See the website for more things to do with toddlers.


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Guidelines for caretakers of children at early stages of learning to read

Take time to read to your child every day.  Reading to your child suggests that it is an activity you value. It also provides your child with access to elements of language that lead to success in the process of learning to read such as vocabulary, appropriate use of grammar, and a feel for what stories usually include (like characters and setting).

Model the importance of reading. Make sure your child sees you reading books, magazines, the newspaper etc.  A child who sees you reading is more apt to want to follow your lead.

Make “easy to read” books readily available for your child to read. An “easy to read book” is one your child can figure out at least 95% of the running words in the book. Books noted as written for young children (e.g. the original Alice in Wonderland), are not necessarily intended for the beginning reader.

If the child is interested in the topic of the book (for example, kittens as pets) a book on the topic of kittens with only 90% of the words being decodable, is certainly appropriate if the child chooses to read it.

Place easy-to-read books in various places in your home where your child is apt to spend time (family room, bedroom, bathroom, etc.)

Fifteen minutes a day is generally considered to be an ideal amount of time for an emergent reader to engage in oral reading. Most young children are not apt to be interested in reading themselves, but will do so if an adult is sitting with them listening to them read.

Bedtime is not the best time to have a beginning readers read out loud to you, as children are tired at that time. Reading aloud takes energy on the part of children who are just beginning to read. Reserve bedtime for reading to your child. In addition to relaxing and preparing him for a restful sleep, reading a story provides the child with a warm and positive association with books and literacy in general.

There are other ways by which you can encourage young children’s reading development besides reading to them or having them read to you.  Your child will enjoy short notes you leave for him/her to read. Leave the notes in places where the child is sure to find them (in a lunch box, on the child’s pillow, etc.). Make sure the words you use to write the notes are mostly easy ones. Encourage your child to write little messages and leave them where you’ll find them. If your child is at the beginning stage of literacy development, don’t expect the written message to be accurate in terms of spelling. If you can make out the essence of the message that is to be applauded.

If your child avoids reading, it may be that what is being provided in terms of reading material is too difficult or uninteresting. Choose reading materials that are easy. These are materials that are generally considered as having a readability (difficulty level) that is one or two grade levels lower than the child is currently in). Research shows that being instructed in school. Reading from easy enjoyable materials can be very beneficial in promoting knowledge of sight words and reading fluency for young children. Librarian can help you with the task of finding books that are easy for your child.

Consider topics of interest for your child in purchasing books for him. Consider joke books or books that describe how to make something step by step. Consider taking turns reading to each other from such materials. Research shows that reading from easy enjoyable materials can be very beneficial in promoting knowledge of sight words and reading fluency. Be enthusiastic and supportive when reading with or to your child.

Children often make mistakes while they are reading aloud to you.  If this occurs, allow the child to continue to the end of the sentence to see if he realizes the error he has made and rereads to fix it. This is a good strategy for the child to employ and should be praised for it. Sometime errors (or miscues) children make are not bad. They make perfect sense and don’t change the authors meaning. In such cases it is often appropriate to ignore the error. However, if the child makes and error that is obviously problematic (it is ungrammatical or nonsensical) and makes no attempt to fix it as he reaches the end of a sentence, it is appropriate to point this out. Do so in a manner that is encouraging and constructive. For example, you might say “you’re doing a nice job, but there is a word here that gave you some trouble. Let me help you with it.” Point to the word, say it and then read the sentence as it should be read.


Scanlon, D. M. (1992) For Parents of Beginning Readers: Questions and Answers. University of Albany.

Tompkins, G. (2005) Literacy for the 21st Century. 4th Ed. Prentice Hall: NY.