Christmas fun that also improves your child’s communication skills

A project is being piloted in North Yorkshire to get everyone involved in improving children’s early language development.

Grow and Learn is taking place in East Whitby and Ryedale and will involve a range of initiatives by us and our partners in health and early years provisions, such as nurseries, baby and toddler groups and other organisations.

The message of the Grow and Learn project is “chat, read, sing and play!” It’s never too early to start talking, singing and reading to babies. Singing nursery rhymes and other songs and chatting and reading to children away from the distractions of television and phones are key ways of developing their early language.

We have put together a list of suggestions on the Grow and Learn webpage for free Christmas activities that you can do at home with your baby or young child. They include singing Christmas songs and dancing together, making paper snowflakes and going for a walk to look at all the Christmas lights.

“A lot of people think there’s no need to talk to a new-born baby, but you can’t start early enough,” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, Executive Member for Children’s Services.

“We want to get the whole community involved through neighbourhood-based partnerships to deliver effective local support for families with children aged 0 to 4. We all have our part to play, from midwives through to health visitors, toddler groups, nurseries, families and friends, library volunteers and others to take the opportunity to sing, read, play and above all to talk to children.”

Children who have under-developed language and communication skills when they start school can become frustrated and quickly fall behind their peers. Evidence shows this early disadvantage can stay with them throughout their education and they can have poorer life chances.

Find ideas on fun, free Christmas activities which can be done at home to help get children school ready.

Also look out for our Grow and Learn social media campaign on @northyorkscc

There’s plenty of Christmas fun from your library, too

Budding young readers are being encouraged to borrow books over the festive period with the promise of a free Christmas goody bag for doing so.

North Yorkshire libraries are inviting children aged 4-11 to read four books or borrow a ‘book bundle’ from their local library. In turn, they can collect a free goody bag including stickers and activities.

There is also plenty happening online through the library servcie’s Facebook pages in the run-up to Christmas:

All County Council libraries will close from 1pm on Thursday, 24 December, and reopen from Monday, 4 January. There may be local variations with some community managed libraries. Please check the website or Facebook page of your local library for details.

While the buildings are closed, you can use North Yorkshire’s free digital library, which has 25,000 free e-books and e-audio books to borrow as well as newspapers, magazines and comics and you can consult a wide range of free reference resources, day and night, throughout the holiday period.

You can also find all your digital resources in one place on the library app, which can be downloaded to mobile devices from the App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android devices. Search for North Yorkshire Library.

You will need your library card number and pin to use the digital library. If you aren’t sure of your pin, call 01609 533878 or contact your local library before December 24 so that we can help you before we close.