The first 3 years are crucial

Human beings learn  the most they will ever learn when they are young. A child’s brain grows faster during the first three years of their lives than at any other time.

The amount and quality of language they experience in this period has the biggest impact on how their language and literacy will develop. Many studies have connected adult success with oral language development in these critical early years.

The people most able to influence a child’s language development are the family/whanau members and other supporting adults with whom the child spends most time. How these significant adults interact with the children can make a huge difference.

Even though they may seem a long way off talking, and may appear not to understand, children take in a huge amount from their interactions with those around them. The more language that children hear and have spoken directly to them, the more words they will learn to understand and say and the faster they will learn to talk.

The first words a baby speaks are words that she or he has heard from adults around them.

You can talk to your children before they are born! Try talking or singing or to the baby in your belly while hapū. Your partner and other children can too.

Talk to your children about what you are doing while doing everyday activities like washing, dressing and changing them.
For example: “Socks on, left foot in, right foot in. Now shoes on. Pull! Let’s tie the laces up. Right, let’s go!”

Sing to and with your children. This can be along to music or not, children’s songs or your favourites!

You can read to children from the day they are born. Choose a time when you are both calm. Make it a snuggly, cosy time together. Choose books with engaging pictures and point to relevant things in the pictures as you talk about them or read the words that relate to what is happening in the picture.