As early childhood professionals, we have recognized the importance of language and literacy in preparing children to succeed in school. It is because of this very reason that literacy is infused in every age-group’s, especially for Infants. Children who are exposed to books at an early age begin to imitate the language & gestures their parents and teachers use while sharing stories. This could be the way they turn pages and sometimes even them murmuring (which is indirectly an early verbal skill), as they “read” the pictures.
Developing language and literacy skills begins at birth through simple interactions, such as sharing books, telling stories, singing songs and talking to one another. In our Infant classroom, the children are able to build a relationship with books, learning how to hold them, and developing their fine-motor skills as they turn the pages. These are all emergent skills when it comes to literacy.
Research has shown that within the first 18 months of an infant’s development, start to show an understanding of pictures which will represent items in the real world, (source: Barton & Brophy-Herb 2006). As the infant grows to become a toddler, when they re-read and re-listen to a book which they’ve read since they were a tiny baby, they start to imitate actions from the book. When this child starts to comprehend the pictures which they see in the book to real-world objects it is the beginning of their literacy development.
No child is too young to be spoken to and read to. It is beyond important that both parents and teachers of these young infants should read & speak to them at every opportunity possible. Even when you are changing a diaper, you should be speaking to the child. When you are laying them down in the crib, take this as an opportunity to sing to them. Whenever we speak to these young children, the words, phrases and songs sit in their subconscious.