Reading to a child is one of the most constructive things a parent can do, and you can do this with them their entire life- starting at birth.
To get specific though for 1-2 year olds, it’s always best to choose bright, colorful books with simple pictures. Cluttered pages, like “I Spy” books, are difficult to look at and comprehend due to their age and brain development. Books for this age group should be short and entertaining. I love to read “Where is the ____” type books, lift the flap, and touchy feely books. Some of my favorite stories have an action on each page (like, clapping, patting, or blowing kisses). When your toddler has fun reading, they will choose this activity so you don’t have to make it a “chore.”
Another strategy for this age is to read books face to face - Instead of sitting the child in your lap to read, sit in front of him so he can see your face and expressions! Watching you read with facial expressions is more exciting than watching your hands move or turn the page. Enthusiasm is contagious! Read the story in silly voices -- use a grumpy voice, then a high pitched voice, or even a ROBOT voice… your child will be laughing and enjoying the book even more with you.
The last strategy I’d like to share with you is eliciting effective communication with your toddler. In our current culture, we rush all day long to make things happen quickly. We drive to the school and daycare fast, we eat our lunch fast, and we’re annoyed when someone is taking too long in the grocery check out line because they are chatting with the checker. Because of this cultural "norm," our speech is automatically faster and we offer less wait time for people AND children to respond. We often expect an action or response right away and continue to speak or ask the same question to fill the silence.
Toddlers truly need time to process the information in their world. Before children develop sentences themselves, they understand best when thoughts are short and to the point. Instead of saying, “Oh look at that blue bird sitting on the tree! He has a worm in his mouth. I bet the baby is hungry!” It may be more beneficial to say, “I found a bird! (pause) A blue bird. (while touching the picture and pausing again) “MMMmmm, yummy worm!” (while rubbing your belly or your childs). When you slow it down, point to pictures, AND use gestures, you are offering your child a visual, auditory, and tactile learning environment. ALL of which are crucial to developing communication and language skills needed for further development.
Now that you have these simple strategies, I encourage you to try at least one strategy this week! Share in the comments what strategy is most relevant to your child.
If you need more guidance or enjoyed these tips, you’ll love my free FB group where we talk all about toddler development. Come check out the growing community.
Can’t wait to see you there!