Research shows that building a language-rich environment from birth makes a big difference in a child’s ability to speak, read, and write.
Follow these tips to help your child develop language skills early in life.
Graphic: Cartoon image of a baby seated on a wooden floor in a house. The baby is holding a red cube building block labeled “encourage.” Next to the baby are six blocks arranged in a pyramid labeled “talk,” “speak,” “pause,” “read,” “point,” and “ask.”
Talking & Language
Graphic: A red block with a large smiley and a small smiley. The large smiley has a speech bubble.
Look at your child and talk to, with, and around her or him often during everyday activities—like when folding laundry or waiting in line—starting from birth.
Graphic: A red block with a symbol of a house.
Speak in your native language as often as possible.
Graphic: A red block with the pause symbol.
Pause to give your child the chance to “speak” in sounds, grunts, coos, and eventually words and phrases. This helps build conversation skills.
Graphic: A red block with a “thumbs up” symbol.
Encourage family members, friends, and others who might be around your child to talk with each other and with your child.
Reading & Literacy
Graphic: A red block with the symbol of an open book.
Read books to your child daily, starting at birth. Find books for children of all ages at your local library—older ones can even pick their own.
Graphic: A red block with the symbol of an open book with a hand pointing at the right page.
Point to printed text and pictures while reading. Encourage the child to turn the book’s pages, and let him or her touch the words and pictures on the pages, too.
Graphic: A red block with two speech bubbles directed at each other. The left speech bubble has an ellipsis.
Talk about what happened in the story, and ask what might happen next.
Graphic: A red block with a question mark.
Ask open-ended questions that start with who, what, when, why, or how, and give your child a chance to answer using sounds and words.
For more information, visit Put Reading First (PDF 817 KB).
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