Teaching a toddler a second language is like dipping a sponge in water. Both will soak it all up!
I firmly believe reading to my toddler from day one was a big game changer.
Reading is concentrated BUT fun language learning.
Read on to find out why it’s so beneficial…
I remember countless doctors, nurses, random strangers, etc telling me to read to my baby from day one. I was pregnant at the time and thought ‘what’s the big deal?’ Babies can’t talk and don’t really interact so will reading really be beneficial? Despite my doubts, I was gifted books for the baby and decided it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
Looking back, I am so very glad I did!
I never realized what a profound impact reading a book to my child would be. Imagine with me for a moment a small toddler who has just begun walking. He is overjoyed with the new achievement and the abilities that come with it. Then imagine the worn out mother that just needs a small break from the new messes and the such from said newly walking toddler…
I thought it was crazy talk to think that I could get that wild monkey to sit still and listen to a book. After some brave attempts I, the worn out mother, was amazed to see the storms (aka the newly walking toddler) calmed. It has to be something about feeding that overactive brain. Like a sponge, it needs something to fill it. The needs of both the mother (a break) and the toddler (some brain food) was met and everyone lived happily ever after…
This past October we welcomed a new little girl into our family. It has taken some time for my toddler to warm up to the idea that he has a new little sister. Those changes have made him a little uneasy BUT he has strongly communicated, in 2 year old fashion, that story time is HIS solo time with mommy or daddy. I love that he values that time so much.
So, a point goes to those oh-so-wise encouragers that highly suggested reading to my child.
I remember thinking that it was great to be able to bond with my little monkey but was it really doing any good language-wise? Time past and there were little things that encouraged me.
He may not have been speaking as soon as so-and-so’s child BUT he could follow a simple direction in both english and spanish. The mom guilt would hit at doctor appointments while I was filling out the development questionnaire. However, my doctor would encourage me saying bilingual children typically take longer before they would begin talking.
I am now at the stage where my toddler will immediately try to imitate words I say and isn’t shy about pointing things out/calling them by name. We encourage those instances with praise and mini celebrations because let’s be honest, it’s exciting for everyone!
So, if you are reading this and stuck in the doubting phase, know that: 1. you are not alone and 2. your continued efforts will bring some awesome rewards!
And, once again another point to the encouragers!
Before you dust off your Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter series with the intention of reading to your toddler, may I make a suggestion…
Through trial and error I quickly realized that a 6 month old, 1 year old or even 2 year old cared if I read every single word on the page. It became frustrating to me because ‘that’s how you read a book!’. My wise father gave me a little nugget of wisdom on this topic… He suggested I point and tell. I thought that since I was reading a children’s picture book it should catch my toddler’s attention. Humbled, I gave it a try. I would point to something on a page and tell him what it was or what the character was doing.
It helped me realize that I needed to improve my spanish and remind me that my toddler is new to this world. He needs to learn the names of things before he can understand the “real” way to read a book.
I challenge you to make time each day to read 20 – 30 minutes to your child(ren). It is beneficial for any and all languages that you want them to learn.