The first months of a child’s life are a very crucial period, a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where brain self-wiring is taking place at a dramatic pace.
During the first six months of life, babies are adapting to the new environment, developing a relationship with the primary caregiver, and gaining body control. Babies like soothing, gentle sounds; enjoy being held and rocked; explore with their eyes, ears hands, feet and mouth; cry to express themselves; and play with sounds.
Between six and 14 months, infants begin to take a great interest in the world around them and explore as much as possible. They become more sociable. They begin to learn language. There is a limited vocabulary but children can understand most of what is said to them.
Physically, large motor skills are developed first. Motor development is becoming more fine-tuned during this period and child can follow simple directions such as touching parts of the face and can play simple games such as peek-a-boo.
Books provide a wonderful opportunity for quiet, quality time between parent or caregiver and child. Young children gain so much from this interaction; they feel the warmth of a lap and a secure connection to parent or caregiver; they hear the soothing sounds of a parent or caregiver’s voice and pick up on rhythm and language.
Sounds, songs, gestures and words that rhyme help infants learn about language and its many uses. Infants need to hear language from a human being; television is just a noise to an infant.
Reach Out and Read National Center www.reachoutandread.org provides a quick chart of developmental milestones, which include:
|6-12 months -||
|12-18 months -||
Other key developmental elements in the 12-18 month stage are that children:
Early literacy experiences begin at birth. Tips from the Lee Pesky Learning Center in Boise, Idaho, regarding early literacy include:
Linda Ernst in Lapsit Services for the Very Young (1995, Neal-Schuman Pub.) encourages parents and caregivers to interact with children through stories, play or everyday activities in the following manner, which can be employed by library staff as well:
CAR (comment, ask, respond), comes from the Washington Research Institute’s Language Is the Key video series, and is best employed one-on-one but could be used in a group setting.
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