How do I read to my 2-year old?
Reading with your child is a wonderful time to support language development. Often with very young children (~1-3 yrs. old), you are really just looking at pictures and talking about pictures in pages rather than reading the text of the book. Be animated, have fun, show your child the joys of reading. When picking up a book with your child, it’s important to make this time play based and fun so that “reading” continues to be an activity that your young child looks forward to. Below, you will find a list of suggestions for “reading” with your young child to improve language skills.
- Point to boys/girls and label them for your child.
- Point to a boy in a picture and say ‘That’s a boy.” Then immediately ask your child, “Is this a boy or a girl.” If your child answers incorrectly, just repeat “This is a boy” and move on. You can also introduce gender pronouns by saying something else about the boy/girl such as “He’s eating birthday cake!” but don’t expect a response back from your child. You want reading with your child to be positive and not be overly concerned with correcting their mistakes. Exposing them to this vocabulary many times is the key to learning!
- Repeat what your child says using a longer sentence. For example, if your child says “doggie run,” you can repeat their sentence by saying “Doggie runs fast” or “Doggie run in house.” Keep your sentences short (about 2-5 words per sentence) and do this every chance you get. A general rule of thumb is to add 1-3 words to your child’s original sentence. This ensures that you are modeling language in a stimulating and not overwhelming way for your child.
- To teach yes/no questions, point to something in a picture- like a cat- and ask your child “Is that a fish?” Your child should say “no,” but if s/he says yes, you can repeat “No. That’s a cat” in a playful, silly voice. You can do this to teach yes questions as well. For example, point to a cat and ask “Is this a cat” and tell your child “Yes, that’s cat.” Keep your voice friendly and silly and allow your child to ask you questions as well. It’s important that this activity stays interactive and doesn’t become a stressful, quiz session for your child.
- While reading, pay attention to the where objects are shown on the picture. If there is an apple on the table, be sure to show your child “apple is ON the table.” You may then ask your child, “Where is the apple?” By the time your child turns 4, s/he should know things that are “in,” “on,” “under,” “behind,” “in front of,” “next to.” Remember to stay animated and engaging…kids generally don’t want to participate in that they perceive to be stressful, boring, or quiz-like, so be sure to use your voice and facial expressions to make this fun and engaging for your child.
- Your child should be learning verbs. If you see an action happening in a picture- like a boy kicking a ball- tell your child “kick.” Then ask “What is he doing?” If you child answers incorrectly, just repeat the verb “kick” and move on.
- Once your child learns a verb, use the –ing form of that verb while reading. Instead of saying “run” say “running.” For example, if you show your child a picture of a boy running, then ask your child “What is he doing?” If your child doesn’t answer correctly, repeat model the correct sentence (“He’s running/He is running”) and move on.
- You can do the same modeling for plurals. For example, if shown a picture of many cats, be sure to call them “catS” to call attention to the fact that there are many.
- Relate the story back to you and your child. If looking at a zoo book, tell your child “I like the ____[animal].” ?What animal do YOU like?” This is important for building referents for new vocabulary and encouraging social and reciprocal communication.
If you have questions or would like additional suggestions for building language skills, please feel free to contact me. Happy reading!