Help get your child ready for school with chat, read, sing and play.

Chat, read, sing and play

A child’s language development begins long before they start school and is shaped by the people and places around them. Every interaction between you and your little one is a great opportunity to fill their world with words to support them to learn. Bath time can be a great time to sing a song together, sharing a story at bed time can settle them for sleep and a trip to the library will enable you to choose a book to take home and share together.

They love it when you chat, play, sing and read with them, even when they’re too young to understand everything.

On this page you’ll find ideas for simple activities to do with your child from when they are born and as they get older, right up to being nearly school age.

 

Babies are learning as soon as they are born and love the sound of human voices. All babies start babbling from an early age – it’s their way of communicating with you. Encouraging this helps them learn to speak. At this age, your baby will like repetitive games, moving about with you and listening to you responding to their babbling.

Chat - Speaking to your baby helps them learn about the world around them. It also prepares them to learn to chat back. It’s never too early to chat.

Read - Reading to your child helps them learn to talk. Looking at books together is fun for your baby, even when they are very little.

Sing - Songs help your baby learn about language. Try singing during routines that take place throughout the day. Observe your baby’s responses to music played at home - does the music comfort them and encourage them to move?

Play - Your baby starts exploring the world straightaway through tastes, sights and sounds. Playing helps them get stronger, become more coordinated and learn new things.

Fun activities to add to your routine

Let your baby splash at bath time. Talk about what's happening and how it feels. Say the same words and do the same actions over and over - things like pouring water on their feet and saying, 'Wash, wash, wash your toes.'

As your baby approaches their first birthday, they’ll start enjoying songs with actions, rhymes and picture books. These help them learn to speak, move and observe things.

Chat - Help your baby get used to the world around them by talking about it while you’re out and about. 

Read - Even before your baby can speak in sentences, reading to them helps them develop. They learn to concentrate, look at pictures, and start building their vocabulary.  Picture books help your baby learn about the world while having fun.

Sing - Sing regularly with your little one and use a wide range of songs and rhymes.

Play - Bubbles are a fun activity for curious babies.

Fun activities to add to your routine

Play together with fabric books that have different textures. Try scrunching the fabric to get your baby’s attention or stroking their hands with the fabric. Name the objects you are playing with and talk about how they feel.  Sing lullabies which are simple, soothing and repetitive – for example, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are

At this exciting time, your baby will be learning to say words and maybe starting to walk. This is a good time to comment on what your child is doing to help them learn new words and help them choose toys and games.

Chat - Babies and toddlers can understand a lot more words than they can say.

Read - Looking at books together helps to get your child chatting.  You can support your child's interest in books by letting them choose their favourite and reading it together.

Sing - Allow time for your little one to anticipate phrases and actions within familiar songs.

Play - Playing ball games helps your baby with their coordination and eyesight.

Fun activities to add to your routine

Say or sing rhymes with actions where you tickle and touch your little one – for example, songs like Round and Round the Garden.

Round and round the garden
Like a teddy bear
One step, two steps
Tickle you under there

Toddlers learn a lot during this time, so it’s good to listen to what they are saying and talk to them, let them make choices about what they like and encourage them to play nicely with others.

Chat – Meal times are good opportunities to get your little one chatting about what food they like.

Read - A quiet time in the evening is a good chance to check in with your child.

Sing - Repeat songs- children learn songs through repetition.

Play - Looking at toys together - during play time, see if you can get your child chatting and paying close attention to toys.

Fun activities to add to your routine

Simple activities like playing ‘I spy’ in the car or on the bus can really help set your child up for school – you can see their imagination light up.  It also makes long journeys more fun.

Use your local library services

Reading aloud to your child is one of the most important things you can do. Reading with children helps to develop language and listening skills, stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world.

Libraries have strong, brightly coloured board books that are ideal for babies and toddlers learning how to handle books. They also have picture books and stories for you to enjoy together. Don’t worry that they might enjoy them a bit too much – there are no charges for lost or damaged children's books!

Many libraries have free storytime or rhymetime sessions. They are open to everyone and a great way to explore books with other children and families and make new friends. See your local library for details.

Libraries are abuzz with under-fives enjoying Buzzy Bee’s Honey Hunt, a free scheme that rewards young children who borrow books from the library with cards, stickers and a certificate. A set of colourful cards depicting locations across North Yorkshire, are given to each child as they progress through the scheme. As well as the six cards, children collect bee stickers. When they have a full card, they receive a certificate.

Enjoyment of books is a key factor in nurturing children’s development and preparing them for school. Buzzy Bee’s Honey Hunt offers a happy, vibrant and stimulating reading journey, which will add value and entertainment to library visits for young children and their families.