Give Your Child a Head Start on Learning Language

Children generally begin reading when they start grade school, but learning language and how to read actually starts long before that. For example, even before children can hold up a book or turn a page, they might enjoy listening to stories and looking at pictures. That’s why experts advise parents to begin reading to their infants every day starting at 6 months of age.

Raising a Reader

Here are some other ways to instill a love of reading early:

  • While reading, move your fingers under the words on the page.

  • Talk about what’s happening in the story.

  • Point out words on familiar signs and labels.

  • Set a good example by reading in front of your child.

  • Make regular visits to the library together.

DVDs Don’t Help

TV programs, DVDs, and videos specifically for babies abound. But is watching them good for baby’s language development?

To find out, researchers surveyed 1,008 parents of children ages 2 to 24 months about their children’s TV viewing. They also had them assess their child’s language skills using a simple test. Among infants ages 8 to 16 months, each hour per day of viewing baby DVDs or videos was linked with a nearly 17-point lower language development score, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Pediatrics. That’s equal to understanding about six to eight fewer test words.

It is important to note that home-based day care may significantly increase the total TV viewing time per day for young children.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Jovino, DO

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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