Read. Talk. Play. Everyday!

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Reading, talking, and playing are essential skills that young children should practice every day - and you are their best teacher!

Here, you’ll find resources and tools to help engage your child in the three key areas each day. Thank you for your commitment to the success of the children in Champaign County.


Top Parent Tips

READ

Your new baby is learning and growing every day. Consider signing up for Bright by Text, a free program for parents that sends parents simple daily activites you can do with or for your baby to support their development.

TALK

At three months, your baby generally develops certain social skills and sensory milestones: a social smile, enjoys playing with people, communicates, expressive with feelings, follows moving toys, recognizes familiar objects, starts using hands and eye together, enjoys sweet smells, and likes soft feelings. Find out more about baby's social development here.

PLAY

At three months, your baby generally develops certain physical skills: "raises head & chest when on stomach, stretches & kicks on back, opens and shuts hands, brings hand to mouth, and grasps and shakes toys." Learn more about your baby's development.

READ

It is never too soon to start reading with your baby! Newborns, ages zero to six months, enjoy a variety of books in a variety of settings: waterproof books at bathtime, cardboard books with bright colors at playtime, and soft books with large pictures at bedtime. Our community's libraries have excellent children's departments. Find a library near you.

TALK

Between four and seven months, your baby's social skills and cognitive thinking continue to develop. Your child should have fun playing with friends and family, be interested in mirrors, understand facial emotions, look happy often, use their hands and mouth, and want unreachable toys. Find more developmental milestones here.

PLAY

When you play with your child, they are gaining important life skills. Your child is learning social and emotional skills, developing confidence, and building long-lasting relationships. Play, laugh, and learn! Find some age-appropriate play tips here.

READ

Literacy starts at birth and develops over the years. It involves speaking, reading comprehension, and listening, not only reading and writing. As a parent, you are helping to develop your child's literacy in everything you say and do with them. Click for our top reading tips for infants.

TALK

Communication is a life skill, and parents can help with the development of communication in their young children. To help develop communication skills, respond to your baby's gestures, talk and listen, build on language skills by asking questions, recognize feelings, read together, narrate your motions, talk at an age-appropriate level, and be a good role model. Find out how to support your child's communication skills.

PLAY

Your baby is constantly developing! At seven months, your baby should be able to "roll both ways, sit with and without support of hands, support whole weight on legs, reach with one hand, transfer object from hand to hand, and use raking grasp." Find more developmental milestones here.

READ

From ages 9 to 12 months, babies love looking at other babies, especially in books! Share picture books with your baby that have photos of other babies and children! Photo albums with family and friends also catch their interest, and you can talk with them about each photo, ask questions, and have them point to photos. Consider attending an event just for babies and their parents - we love checking this local event calendar.

TALK

By twelve months, your baby is continuing to develop social skills and cognitive thinking! They may be scared of strangers, sad when parents have to go, enjoy playing with people, see adult response, enjoy certain toys more than others, eat with their fingers, notice a picture when the object is named, and use objects in the right way. Find out more about baby's babbling here.

PLAY

Each month your baby develops new skills. By twelve months, they should be able to sit on their own, transition from sitting to crawling positions, pull themselves up to stand, and walk while holding your hand or along a couch. ​Every baby develops at their own pace, but don't hesitate to talk with your pediatrician if you have any concerns about your baby's development. 

READ

Toddlers, ages one to two years, love books that they can hold, carry around their home, and take with them on car rides. They enjoy books that have children, families, and animals in them, as well as shapes and colors. They also enjoy books that have a few words on each page, especially words that repeat and rhyme! 

TALK

Around age one, babies begin walking and transition into the toddler stage. This can lead to tantrums as they try to balance their competing wants of independence and feeling safe. During this phase, they also learn to talk. Throughout the toddler years, it is important to support your child, be responsive, and play with them as much as possible. Learn more about toddler social skill development.

PLAY

Being informed about television and screen time can help parents decide when and how to utilize it. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children not watch television until the age of two. For children over two, the recommendation is one to two hours each day. Learn ways to maximize the value of the screen time together.

READ

Read Aloud! Reading to your child at a young age can help prepare them to become an excellent reader. When you read aloud to your child, they learn how to hold a book, turn the page, look at pictures, and identify words. Learn more about reading out loud together.

TALK

Young toddlers are curious and ask lots of questions! How a parent responds is so important. Rejecting questions may stop their curiousity and creativity, whereas asking your child to help find the answer can help their brainstorming and research skillls. Here's some tips on how to respond to your curious child.

PLAY

Between age two and three, a child's thinking skills continue to grow significantly. To support their growth, you can support pretend play, put on dress-up clothes to act out stories, ask questions, offer chances to explore, talk about feelings, test out different solutions to problems, and find patterns in your everyday routines. Learn how play helps develop a child's thinking skills.

READ

Toddlers, ages two to three, enjoy books that have their favorite characters in them, as well as books that introduce new lovable characters. They also enjoy books with simple stories that are easy to memorize. Re-reading and memorizing books help build your child's literacy skills.

Nuture your child's literacy skills by taking them to the library; reading together often; creating a cozy nook in your home for looking at books alone and together; playing rhyming and language games; pointing out words wherever you go; and providing plenty of reading and writing materials for your child to use and enjoy.

TALK

Toddlers can sometimes become irritable for a variety of reasons, including being tired, hungry, or worried. When parents stay calm and try to problem-solve, this can help their children calm down. Count to 10 first, if that helps! Here are some more tips for helping comfort a fussy toddler.

PLAY

Children learn when they are having fun, so it is helpful to make math, language, and social activies enjoyable. Consider visiting one of United Way's Born Learning Trails - they turn a visit to the park into an educational moment.

Examples of engaging activies include counting jumping jacks, telling a story, reading a favorite book aloud, and playing "Simon Says." To find more activies visit this link.

READ

To help prepare your preschooler for kindergarten, there are several fun ways to build their literacy skills. When reading together, ask them questions about the story, have them ask you questions, let them tell the story, and take turns reading. Also, create books together, give them lots of reading and writing materials to use, and make books a part of your daily routine.

Letters are a valuable skill for reading! Select a letter of the day until you have covered the entire alphabet. For example, one day could be "a" themed, where you and your child do activities and eat food that start with the letter "a." It will be "awesome!" Read more about this activity.

TALK

Kindness matters! Make sure to teach you child about compassion and looking at other's emotions. Kindness can include calling a loved one, sending a note, or giving a compliment. Read more about this topic.

PLAY

Experimenting is a great way to learn about the world around them! Gather several objects of varying weights from around your home, and drop two at the same time and repeat. Did one object drop faster than the other? Have your child explain what they saw, divide the objects into a "faster" and "slower" pile, and draw a picture about what they observed. Read more.

READ

As your child grows, so does their curiosity! You can support their reading development by surrounding them with books about their interests. The next time you visit the library, let your child take the lead and have them select books that interest them. Learn more here.

TALK

Emotions are a big part of life, so make sure your child understands how to deal with emotions. To help, you can read picture books together and then discuss the emotions each character was feeling. Learn more about your child's emotions and how to teach self-awareness.

PLAY

At the age of five many children are ready to starting learning about the value of money. Try teaching you child with real coins that two nickles equal one dime. Then you can play store toegther using items in your house! Here's more fun games.

MORE GREAT PARENT RESOURCES

Help is available.

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211 operator

 

If you're struggling with parenting, new to the area, or just don't know where to turn to find help for your family, call 211.

Specialists are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and connect you to local resources.

Call 211 from any phone, or text your ZIP Code to 898 211.

211 is a free service thanks to United Way of Champaign County and the Champaign County Mental Health Board.


About Us

Read. Talk. Play. Everyday! is a community-wide initiative to provide preschool-aged children (0-5) and their families with opportunities and resources for reading, talking, and playing, every day so they can enter kindergarten ready for success.

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