Talk, Read & Play is an informational campaign to support families with children ages birth to five. The campaign is a product of Countdown to Kindergarten, in collaboration with city partners.
Countdown to Kindergarten engages families, educators and the community in a citywide effort to enhance early learning opportunities and to support successful transition into kindergarten.
Countdown's programs and activities create a continuum of services that support families from birth through kindergarten entry, including: Talk, Read, Play Campaign, Play to Learn Groups & Kindergarten Transition Activities.
Countdown to Kindergarten is a unique collaboration among the Boston Public Schools, the Office of Mayor Marty Walsh and more than two dozen public and private organizations.
Talking to your baby is one of the most important things you can do to help your child learn to talk and grow her/his vocabulary. Talk is also essential for learning to read and write.
Talking to young children - starting at birth - helps them to develop strong communication skills, which enable them to better express themselves. Children who learn to read and write words they have never heard before find it as challenging as learning a whole new language. In sum, children learn to listen first, then talk, read and write. Listening to your words is the first step.
Currently, in the United States, a vocabulary gap (the number of different words a child knows) already exists at kindergarten entry. Research shows that low-income parents, on average, speak to and talk with their children much less than higher-income parents.
Note: talk can and should be done in the language that is most comfortable for you, the parent or primary caregiver. Do not worry if your native language is not English. Your child will benefit from the words you share with him no matter the language and all the skills he acquires will support his literacy in English when the time comes. Additionally, speaking to your child in a second language will provide him the opportunity to be bilingual – an asset in our global society.
Reading to your baby is one of the most important things you can do to help your child grow her vocabulary and develop a love of learning. Reading at home is also essential for learning to read and write once your child begins school.
Babies should be read to starting at infancy, to get used to hearing language, bond with their caregivers, and develop their own love of books and reading. Reading with infants and toddlers helps them develop a longer attention span, a larger vocabulary, an eagerness to read, the ability to predict a storyline, and book-handling skills, all of which will help with learning to read later.
Making book-sharing a part of your daily routine will help your child include reading as part of his daily life. Children who become independent readers regularly demonstrate higher academic achievement in all subject areas over their lifetimes.
Note: reading can and should be done in the language that is most comfortable for you, the parent or primary caregiver. Do not worry if your native language is not English. Your child will benefit from the books you share with him no matter the language and all the skills he acquires will support his literacy in English when the time comes. Additionally, reading to your child in a second language will provide him the opportunity to be bilingual – an asset in our global society. Many Boston Public Library branches carry children's books in various languages or can order them from the main library for you. Ask your local librarian for help in finding books in your home language.
Reading now will pave the way for school success!
Playing with your child and providing opportunities for him to play independently will help him develop his creativity, imagination, and social and emotional skills. Babies and children need stimulation and interaction to foster brain development. They learn how to interact with others and the world around them through play.
Play is the "work" of childhood and is critical to your child's healthy development! It is through play that children solve problems, learn to work in groups, to share, negotiate, advocate for themselves, and strengthen their growing bodies. Play is also a simple joy of childhood that parents can encourage and protect by allowing their child to lead the play activity. Playground time with other children, playdates at home or in other social settings will help your child prepare for the social interactions of school.
Setting aside playtime for your young child will foster her imagination and problem-solving and allow her time to work out all the exciting things she is learning about her world. No expensive toys or gadgets are needed to promote play. Simple items such as blocks, empty containers, or old clothes for dress-up can spark hours of imagination in a young child!
Children are learning all the time. For your child, there is no distinction between learning and playing. As his parent, you simply need to know that he is learning about life every moment and encourage opportunities to be curious and to play.
Playing with your child now will help him to be ready to play and learn with others in school and in life!
Creative play can be encouraged with simple, open-ended toys, such as blocks, crayons, vehicles, dolls or animals, and old clothes that can be used in a variety of ways by an imaginative child.