Early Literacy Tips For Parents: 5 Ways To Encourage Toddlers

What exactly is “Literacy,” anyway? Usually, when we think of literacy, we think about reading, right? There’s actually a lot more to it… But setting your child up for success in their early literacy learning doesn’t have to be tough. So, here are some tips to get you started in the early years!

Yes, reading is a big part of literacy. But if your child can only read, and does not have a strong foundation in the other language skills, then their understanding will be only surface level. What are these other language skills, you might ask?

Literacy is a combination of Reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

These are our essential skills for understanding the world around us and the same ones we use to communicate our thoughts, wishes, and needs. Needless to say, these skills are all pretty important!

Now, educators are well-versed in how to teach literacy to your children once they are in school… But this doesn’t mean you can’t work on these skills at home! So, let’s look at some tips for parents that can help strengthen their child’s literacy at home.

Early Literacy Tips For Parents

1. Talk Like An Adult (To Your Kids)

Sounds pretty contradictory, right? I get it! Your kids are adorable, and it can be tough to not babble or talk in ‘baby talk,’ especially when they’re very little. But – You are who the children interact most with. This means that you need to demonstrate the skills that you want them to learn, especially with language.

After all, how will they learn proper speaking skills when they’re not being exposed to them? Talking to your young ones like they are adults will do wonders for their development.

*Another note on this Talk as much as you can with them! In their young years, children are at such a wonderful stage of development where they’re exploring big ideas and emotions. Talking with them consistently helps teach them how to articulate their thoughts while practicing their early literacy skills, too.

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2. Read, Read, Read!

Offering a wide range of texts for your children is key here. Sometimes, they may want to be brave and try reading all on their own – Amazing! Encourage this! But, other times, they may want to just be immersed in your words as they imagine the characters and become enthralled with the story you’re telling. Also amazing! Introducing them to (and inspiring them to have) a love of reading will be excellent for their literacy development as they become excited about books of all kinds and explore their own interests through reading

Also, try to incorporate reading into your daily routine. Personally, I love using books as a “wind-down” tool. Maybe we’re switching activities and need a way to bring the energy down between tasks – So we crack out a few books!

Reading before bed also helps to transition your children to bedtime by redirecting their minds into the story and relaxing them before sleep.

Extra Reading: 7 Ways To Help Your Child Love Reading

Early Literacy Tips For Parents - Writing

3. Draw (Or Write) It Out!

I mentioned above that writing is one of the key components of early literacy. But, how do we teach writing in the early years? Through drawing! The National Association for the Education of Young Learning actually has a great infographic on the stages of writing. Definitely take a peek to find out where your child is at and what to expect next!

Remember, we’re not looking for perfect letter shapes at this stage. Squiggles, scribbles, and mimicking of letters is great too. Focus more on helping them hold their pencils properly than the actual shapes they’re drawing for now.

If you have a young one that really wants to write letters, words, and/or sentences, try using a highlighter to write the word for them. Then they can use their pencil to try tracing these letters themselves!

4. Get Musical

Have a mini-musician in the house? Maybe this is the way to their literary heart! Learning songs together is an engaging way to practice literacy. Not only are they (maybe) memorizing lyrics, but if you’re doing action-based songs then they are connecting the words they’re saying/hearing to the actions. This deepens their learning and, perhaps most importantly, is fun!

5. Play!

If you’ve read my other articles, you have likely noticed my appreciation for play-based learning. This is because I love that you can teach crucial concepts through engaging and exciting activities. This reduces stress to learn and makes things more memorable – Plus, if it’s fun enough, your children may not even realize they’re learning!

Try to find some word games that your children are interested in, or play some old favorites (with twists)! You may want to try this fun take on Red Light, Green Light, for example!


There you have it, folks! 5 easy ways to practice literacy at home! Save the worksheets and full-on lessons for when your child is in school, and guide them through their at-home learning in a fun way. They will be literacy all-stars in no time!

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Elke Crosson

Elke Crosson majored in International Relations with a minor in Spanish. She is currently a support coordinator with the YMCA and works with preschool children as a nanny, in preparation for becoming a elementary school teacher.

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