Things to Do

Find fun activities to do with your child

Talking

Talking with your child helps build language and vocabulary skills.

Talking Tips

  • Help your child understand the story. Ask open ended questions such as: "What do you think is happening in this picture?" As you talk together, your child practices his language and prediction skills.
  • Talk about feelings- yours and your child's. Having the words to express feelings may help reduce your child's frustuation.
  • The more you talk with your child, the richer your child’s vocabulary will be. Talk about and explain what you’re doing and what’s going on around you. Point at and name items as you see them. Whether you’re bathing your child or taking a walk, use words that describe the actions and the things around you. Talk about all the senses involved.
  • When talking with your child, use a variety of descriptive words. Use specific words instead of words like "it", "here" or "there". For familiar words in a book, rhyme or song, think of a new word that has a similiar meaning. When a child is learning a new word, use it often throughout the day.
  • Show your child that print is useful and that reading is important to you by talking to them about what you are reading: the newspaper, a book, a menu, a letter or an email.
  • Encourage your child to tell you about his day, or something that happened like a birthday party or special trip. Ask questions like “What happened first? What happened next? What did it look like? What did you like best?”.
  • Talk about the letters that are most interesting to your child – the letters in his name. Help your child learn and recognize the first letter of her name. Together, look for that letter in a book. Eventually, your child will recognize and find all the letters of her name.
  • When your child tells a story, use plenty of praise and support. Your child may “talk your ear off” and ask endless questions starting with “why.” Encourage this curiosity and interest.
  • Letter knowledge includes knowing that letters relate to sounds and that specific sounds go with specific letters. When you talk about letters, say the name of the letter as well as the sound it makes. Repeat letter sounds. “M” goes MMMMM. “B” goes BBBB. Knowing the sounds of the letters helps children figure out how to say written words.
  • Babies love to hear your voice. Copy your baby’s sounds and listen to the sounds she makes back. Take the time throughout the day to talk with your child about all kinds of things. Describe daily activities. Talk about what has happened, what is happening and what will happen during the day.
  • Children learn best by doing- and they love doing things with you. While sharing books with your child, encourage your child to talk about the story and pictures. Invite him to participate by asking questions. Then add more describing words to what your child says, including the character’s feelings, even if those words are not used in the book.
  • Make sure your child has lots of opportunities to talk with you. Listen attentively as your child tries to tell you something. Even if you cannot understand what your child is saying, be a patient listener. Repeat back to your child what you have understood.
  • Practice saying new words together. Take the time to stop and explain unfamiliar words when reading or speaking with your child. Speak clearly when introducing new words. When a word has more than one meaning, talk about the different meanings.
  • Look at the front cover of a book and ask your child what they think the story will be about. Look at the pictures, and ask your child what he thinks will happen next. It’s fun to read and compare the prediction with what really happens.
  • Take some time to talk together about the books. You don’t have to read a book from cover to cover without stopping. Point to the pictures and ask questions like, “What’s this?” or “What is he doing?” Give your child time to answer and praise her efforts.
  • When your child babbles or talks, listen carefully and answer. Even if you don't know what he means or he doesn't have the words to answer, talk to your child and ask him lots of questions.
  • Reading at bedtime is ideal for spending quiet moments with your child. Sharing stories of what happened during the day is a great way to develop narrative skills.
  • Books especially good for developing narrative skills have stories that are fun to tell over and over again. Let your child fill in a repeated part of a story, or complete a pattern. Encourage participation by saying a repeated line together. Ask questions like “What happened first? And then? What happened in the end?”
  • While reading, encourage your child to ask talk about the book. Add to what your child says. If your child says, "Big truck", you might say, "That's right! The firefighter is driving a big, red fire truck!"
  • Start talking to your baby in your home language on the day they are born. By babbling, babies learn to make sounds with their own voices. Encourage your baby to become more vocal by responding to his coos, gurgles and grunts to promote language development.
  • Wordless picture books are great for practising narrative skills. By giving children a chance to tell a story in their own words, they build their storytelling skills and are encouraged to use descriptive language. Search for “stories without words” on the library website.
  • One way to engage your child in a book is to start a conversation about what you're reading. Relate the pictures and the story to your child's own experiences. For example, "What happened when we went to the park?" Talk about what the characters are doing or feeling. Share a book together without actually reading it.
  • When you child says "Aahh", say it back to her, and turn the sounds into real words. Encourage your child to copy you, too. You'll help your child recognize which sounds form language and develop her vocabulary before she can talk.

Six skills that get your child ready for reading

Liking books

Children who enjoy books will want to learn to read.

Hearing words

Hearing the smaller sounds in words helps children sound out written words.

Knowing words

Knowing many words helps children recognize written words and understand what they read.

Telling a story

Learning to tell a story helps children develop skills in thinking and understanding.

Seeing words

Familiarity with printed language helps children feel comfortable with books and reading.

Knowing letters

Knowing the names and sounds of letters helps children sound out words.