Written by: Stacey Patterson, Early Intervention Service Coordinator
Since joining the Champaign County Early Intervention Team last June, I have been happy to hear the conversations between Early Intervention Service Providers and families about the importance of reading to their very young children.
Some concerns parents have about reading to their children are often that children have no interest in books or that children just destroy the books. These are valid concerns!
However, coming from a preschool background, I know the importance of reading to children. Reading to your child during infancy is important in building that language/literacy connection. Children learn to talk when adults engage them in conversations, which often happens during reading.
But how can you help your child learn to speak by reading?
I think we all have the illusion that reading to a child should be a quiet, peaceful experience. Your child sits on your lap and listens intently as you read them a story…
But it usually doesn’t happen that way! At least not right at the start. You must show your child that reading can be enjoyable, just as you would demonstrate any other skill you are trying to teach them. It’s also important to understand how reading to a child should look, according to your child’s age.
Expectations for read with infants
Infants, up to about a year old, need fabric, plastic, or board books that can be handled without fear of being torn apart. Books need to have brightly colored, easily recognizable pictures, with only one or two words per page. Look for books that label items such as animals, colors, etc. While you look at the book, have a conversation with your child about the pictures you are seeing on the pages. Encourage your child to point to the pictures as you read.
Make sure your child can see your face. Younger infants especially learn so much from your facial expressions. This is how you begin to teach them that reading time can be enjoyable. If you are not having fun, your child will not have fun either!
Expectations for read with toddlers
Older infants and toddlers enjoy board books with just a few words on each page. Eric Carle books are a favorite of mine for this age. Let them turn pages (with your help if necessary). Point out the pictures, ask them questions even if they don’t have the words to answer yet. This is how children learn the back-and-forth nature of conversation. Again, sit so that your child can see your face. Make faces or use silly voices while reading to engage your child.
Reading a book isn’t just about the words on the page, it’s about the experience you create.
When you choose books for older toddlers, you can begin to introduce more traditional paperback picture books. Rhyming books are a great way to have fun with words! But again, it’s up to adults to teach children to handle books with care. Store books on a bookshelf (or something similar) to help children understand that they aren’t meant to be on the floor, written on, or stepped on. Children are young but usually capable of learning how to take care of books.
The process of reading the words, pointing to the words and pictures, and having a conversation about the story all encourage language. It helps your child make the connection between words on a page and the everyday items all around them. These are beginning reading skills, and it just builds from there.
Reading to your child helps them learn to use their own words, and later, helps them learn to read! It’s kind of magical when you see it happen! 😊
RESOURCES FOR READING
Getting books to read with your child does not have to be expensive. If you haven’t already, check out your local library. They have books for children of all ages.
You can also sign up for Dolly Parton's Imagination Library. This is a free service that mails one new, age appropriate book to your child each month until they are 5 years old. Use the link below to sign up.
Written by: Leigh Anne Wenning, Superintendent
March is celebrated nationally as Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. At the Champaign County Board of Developmental Disabilities, we want to shine a light on people of all abilities. People with developmental disabilities (DD) are our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members; and our community is stronger when we include everyone.
In 2023, people with developmental disabilities have the option to live, work, and play just like everyone else. People with DD live in their own homes, go to jobs that they choose, have meals out with friends, and even go to college. Our job at the Champaign County Board of DD is to assist them in navigating these life choices and coordinate the needed supports to help them meet their goals. In fact, the #1 goal in our strategic plan is related to inclusion.
Everyone can make small efforts to educate ourselves and think about ways we can be more inclusive with people of all abilities. A few ways to do this are:
1. Watch a documentary on the lives of people with disabilities.
2. Contact the Champaign County Board of DD about volunteer activities or ask what you can do to be involved.
3. Talk to a community member with disabilities about their experiences and what is going on in their life. (I bet you will find that their experiences are very similar to yours.)
4. Read about disability advocacy online. The Champaign County Board of DD website or a simple google search on Ohio developmental disability resources can give you a variety of online documents.
5. Follow DD organizations or advocacy groups on social media as well.
At our local libraries throughout Champaign County this month, you will find book displays that highlight the experiences of people with disabilities. We would like to thank all the area libraries for partnering with us to make sure these books are front and center during this important month.
As always, if you have any questions or want to learn more about the Champaign County Board of DD, follow us on social media at www.facebook.com/champaigncbdd.org or check out our website at www.champaigncbdd.org. You can also reach us by phone at 937-652-5217.
On March 1, 2023, community members from Champaign County attended Developmental Disabilities Awareness and Advocacy Day at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus. They listened to speakers and spoke with their local state representatives. Take a look at their visit.