Language skills are the base from which all further learning follows. One of the greatest gifts you will ever give your child is a sound early base in reading and writing. A head start in these essential skills is an advantage children can carry into the rest of their lives.
Children have an extraordinary ability to learn. Their young minds are like sponges soaking up the sounds they hear and the sights they see. From a very early age they start the development of the most essential life skill -- Language. The child must learn to understand, to talk, and eventually to read and write. These essential skills allow the child to express herself and to grasp new concepts.
All children are different and they learn at their own speed. They will reach their language milestones when they are ready. Some children will say their first word at 6 months old while others wait until they are more than a year old. This is nothing for parents to worry about but they can and should take an active role in encouraging the child's language development.
The child's school will take the lead role in teaching your child to read. That does not mean that parents do not have an active role to play or that they cannot start teaching the child long before school starts. It can be a very discouraging experience for children to start school and find they are already behind their classmates. A few children will never catch up and will be at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives.
In the following pages, we will look at the role parents can play in laying the foundations for their children's reading and writing development.