Before I was a librarian, I was a nanny in Manhattan (I was totally like Scarlett Johansson in that Upper East Side nanny movie, except my skin looked like crap). I took care of many kids, mostly toddlers, with varying vocabularies and communication skills. At the time, I didn’t have any academic knowledge about early childhood development, but I had been observing the difference between the kids who could and did talk and the kids who didn’t speak, or who had very few words in their vocabularies. It was simple: The chatty kids had chatty parents. If the parents talked, so did the kids. The kids who hardly saw their parents or the kids whose parents insisted on those awful Baby Einstein videos? They just had very few verbal skills. Of course, I talked to the kids all day long, because I have a really big mouth and needed something to do, but overall, I think it’s better if this behavior is mirrored by the primary caregiver.
In other words, if you want your child to talk, talk to them as much as you can (constantly talking on your cellphone in the near vicinity of your kid doesn’t count, sorry). It really doesn’t matter what you talk about. Point out things you see on your walks. Tell them what you’re going to do during the day. And, of course, read aloud to them.
Naturally, I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I shamelessly ripped off Kent District Library’s early literacy practices to make this month’s literacy tip (you can see some others I’ve made here and here). Here’s what Kent District Library has to say:
I made one sign for behind the Reference Desk:
And one that I put up in one of our program rooms:
So go talk to your kid already.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid