Using everyday activities to interact with your children

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Experts say it's important to talk, read, sing and interact with your child from the moment they are born. While it may take some extra effort on parents' part, it can be done in any situation.

Madera mom Karri Hight is always on the go with a toddler and an 8-month-old baby in tow. But she always stops to smell the roses, look at butterflies fluttering their wings, and birds sitting on a wire -- no matter how busy she is.

"We would go through the grocery store, and I would talk to him about everything because he was who I had to talk to, you know, and so we talked and talked, and I would just talk to him like an adult, and I think that because of that he really started to understand language a lot sooner," said Hight.

Turns out, she's on to something. Hannah Norman of First 5 Fresno County says it's these everyday activities that are the best opportunities to talk, read and sing to your child.

"One of the best ways I think for our youngest children is to narrate what you're doing or what they're doing, describing feeling words, adjectives, actions of what's happening," said Norman.

So diaper changes turn into spelling lessons with Fresno teacher and first-time dad Kevin Ruiz and his son, Blake. And playtime involves silly math songs. Even making sandwiches doubles as a learning experience.

"The fact that I'm watching him grow and develop and see things and recognize things, it's a great feeling inside as a parent," said Ruiz. "At first it was like, Should I do this? Should I do that? What's OK for him this young?"

But parents shouldn't be intimidated because they don't think their child will understand. It's never too early to start connecting words with experiences.

In fact, Blake's mom, Jessyca Pearce, is already reading to the 2-month-old, laying the foundation for literacy long before he will be reading.

"So it is a shifting of thought to think even though they're not ready to start writing paragraphs or reading novels, those foundations that will help them do that later on are being set by learning language, singing songs and becoming familiar with vocabulary," said Norman.

Technology can be a great aid, as long as you use it as a tool, not a babysitter. The key is to interact with your children while they're on the iPad to make sure they're learning.

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