Teaching Baby the ABCs

What is the most effective way to teach my 11-month-old her numbers and ABCs? I read and recite numbers to her, but I want to do all I can to prepare my baby for the long road of education ahead.

--Iovonna
Question:

Infants and toddlers learn about the world as they watch, listen, taste, touch and smell everything around them. By interacting with your child as she explores, you expand her vocabulary and learning. I can't stress enough the importance of talking to your child.

I'm glad to hear that you read to your daughter. Make this an enjoyable time. As she sits on your lap to hear her favorite story, your child will associate reading as a pleasurable activity. Talk about the pictures as you read. She will begin to understand that the words on the page are what we read, not the pictures. She will watch you as you run your fingers under the words and move from the top of the page to the bottom and left to right.

Sometimes your child may have a favorite story that she wants you to read over and over again. Although you may tire of hearing the story, I encourage you to read it to her. Pretty soon she will begin to "pretend read" to you. This is the beginning step to learning to read!

I also encourage you to sing with your child and play lots of rhyming games. This is extremely valuable in oral language development. Children who have the ability as preschoolers to "play with language" tend to have an easier time learning how to read. When entering school, there is a big difference between children who have been read to and those who have had little experience with books.

--Diane Dodge, Teaching Strategies

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