Did you know that language and early literacy development begins in the first year of life?

A common misconception is that babies are too young to be receptive to learning and literacy. But babies are not just cute and cuddly; their brains are working at top speed, forming more than a million new neural connections each second. The networks formed within the brain are transformed into an increasingly complex web of visual, motor, language and social emotional connections that are essential for literacy learning. Indeed, 90% of brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life.

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It is during this time that we can most easily and effectively lay the foundation for future language development. Although the “windows” for language learning and other skills remain open, these brain circuits become increasingly difficult to alter over time. Early plasticity means it’s easier and more effective to influence a baby’s developing brain architecture than to rewire parts of its circuitry in the adult years.

Talking, singing, playing, and reading with babies are all wonderful ways to help support babies’ brain development at a time when the impact is at its peak. Research shows healthy development is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with the adults around them, books and stories. Setting children on a path for success starts from birth.

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Literacy and language skills will naturally unfold when babies have opportunities to enjoy books and share positive language experiences with the people around them. Activities such as exploring and playing with books, as well as singing nursery rhymes and listening to stories are the building blocks for language and literacy development.

We want all babies to:

  • Learn how books work (this includes turning pages, opening and closing books, and even safely chewing on books).
  • Practise communication using gestures, sounds and words.
  • Begin to play with sounds through songs and rhymes.
  • Develop an enjoyment of reading books and start their journey to become life-long learners.

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What Does Research Say?

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