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NAN: Fostering Literacy Development Birth to 18 Months

Once a baby is around 4 months of age, she may begin to show an interest in books.  Nannies can foster this interest by introducing books and providing children opportunities to explore books of various shapes and textures each day. It is around this stage of development when babies will become interested in objects. Sturdy vinyl or cloth books are great for early exploration as they stand up to tossing and chewing well.  Board books, musical books, pop-up books and lift the flap books are also great for exploration. 

Expect children to shake, grab and chew on books. Around 6 to 12 months of age, babies may begin to try to turn pages and may show in interest in the story. If caring for bilingual children, this is also the stage of development to introduce an object by sharing the name of the object in both languages. 

From 12 to 18 months, babies start to point to favorite pictures and may imitate an action from the story or babble in response to the story. Over time, a child’s babbles will develop into understandable speech.

As children begin to develop hand and eye coordination along with their fine motor skills, nannies should provide opportunities for children to use crayons, paints, pencils and other non-toxic arts and crafts supplies. Nannies can write the child’s name on his artwork to help the child build a connection between the letters, his name and himself.  

It is important to note that early literacy development does not refer to an infant or toddler’s ability to read.  Formal instruction aimed at teaching infants and toddlers to read is not developmentally appropriate. Instead, early literacy skills building should focus on the enjoyment of books and literacy rich interactions with caring adults. 

Nannies can foster literary rich interactions by setting aside time each day to read to the child, by using puppets or flannel boards to tell stories, by labeling toy bins and helping the child to put his toys away in the appropriate bins, by engaging in finger plays and reciting rhymes and by listening to audio books together. When teaching children new concepts, like the names for items of clothing, for example, literary rich interactions may include pointing to the child’s clothing items and labeling them, asking the child to point to the item of clothing you name, dressing a puppet and talking about the item of clothing you are putting on it and using a felt board to dress a doll.

Michelle LaRoweNAN: Fostering Literacy Development Birth to 18 Months