Babies enter the world ready for relationships. They like to listen. They recognize and show interest in their family’s language already heard for months in the womb and they’re able to see differences in human faces. A baby’s development changes the most during the first year of life. They naturally seek trusting relationships with caring adults to meet their basic needs. Touch and caring physical interaction is key for their development. There are things that babies typically do during the first years of life that are signs of future literacy skills. These skills are all connected and each play a role in helping the next develop.
We hope this video and the corresponding tips below help add to what you’re already doing with your little ones and highlight why the skills you see each day are important in building a foundation for literacy!
Cues are a baby’s way of trying to tell you what they need, the sounds and facial expressions they make are their earliest form of talking. Babies generally show different cues when they’re hungry, in pain, feeling tired or playful.
With infants this means making eye contact while listening to their coos and other sounds, focusing only on them. Imitate the sounds they make, stop…wait for them to make another sound, then repeat it back. An example is talking to your baby while changing their diaper, explain to them what you’re doing or talk to them about where the two of you are going that day, then pause occasionally for them to vocalize and continue that “conversation.”
When a baby points to or gives you something they’re interested in tell them the name for it, for example, “that’s an airplane in the sky!” then talk to them more about airplanes. As much as possible, follow their lead. For instance rather than asking close-ended questions in the car like, “how many windows can you count in the car?” When you’re child says, “look, there’s a fire engine” you might follow up with “where do you think it’s going?” then expand on your child’s answers.
When an infant picks up a small object or food with their thumb and index finger they’re using a pincer grasp, which is an important part of fine motor development because it helps strengthen hand muscles that will later be used to pick up a fork to eat, then hold a pencil as they begin scribbling and learning to write.