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.
Winter is a Great Time to P.L.A.Y.
Written by: Amy Kerrigan, Community Education Specialist
The P.L.A.Y. Project may sound like a guide for having fun, but it is so much more. It is a unique program designed for families who have children, ages 0-6 yrs, on the autism spectrum. A consultant works one-on-one with parents and empowers them with knowledge on using engaging activities in their everyday routines with their child(ren), who might have various sensory and developmental challenges. The Champaign County Board of DD (CCBDD) is very lucky to have Jess Baird as our in-house certified P.L.A.Y. Project consultant.
To participate in The P.L.A.Y. Project, a child must first be evaluated by CCBDD to determine eligibility for Early Intervention services. Anyone can make a referral for the initial evaluation. After evaluation, the CCBDD staff decides if the family is a good candidate for P.L.A.Y. Project.
To start, simply contact the CCBDD Early Intervention Director, Jennifer Bradford at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about referrals. Or you can start the referral process yourself by going to www.ohioearlyintervention.org.
In the meantime, Jess offers ideas to support families with a child on the autism spectrum and to help all families start the holidays and new year with engaging activities.
2. Visit some of Jess Baird's favorite websites like www.asensorylife.com and www.inspiredtreehouse.com. These sites offer a wealth of resources for helping children with high sensory needs. There are checklists, tips and tricks, research information, and fun therapeutic activities.
Written by: Amy Kerrigan, Community Education Specialist
Early Intervention and P.L.A.Y. Project are two free services offered at Champaign Co Board of DD. But what are they and how do they help?
Early Intervention (EI) is for children ages birth to 3 years. The EI program provides certified therapists to work with children who are suspected of having a developmental impairment. Therapists also work with parents to help them understand and work with their child's issues.
P.L.A.Y. Project is for children ages birth to 6 years and is essentially an EI program specialized for children suspected of having autism. Here are some important things to remember about EI and P.L.A.Y. Project:
If you want to learn more about EI and P.L.A.Y. Project, contact Jennifer Bradford (Early Intervention Director) at 937-653- 5217.
² Statistic found at www.wecarechildren.org