Mummy blogger, LadybirdMum on encouraging her little boy’s love of books, reading, songs and learning.
Whilst ‘no’ is very much my toddler’s favourite word, other words he likes to say a lot include ‘blue!’, ‘Peppa!’, ‘Thomas!’ ‘Trains!’ and – much to my delight – ‘stories!’ He was always going to be a baby surrounded by books, and over the last two years, we’ve had so much fun reading him stories and watching him take more and more interest in them.
Mind you, the fun can wear pretty thin, when you are reading a story on repeat for the seventh time. And yes, there are several books on top of the wardrobe, which I just can’t bring myself to re-read any time soon. He hasn’t even noticed their absence, but what a nice surprise when we ‘find’ them again. Avoiding constant repetition is why we love trips to the library. Zach hasn’t quite mastered library etiquette yet; he runs around bellowing ‘SHUSH MUMMY SHUSH!’ and tries to climb on board the overdue books trolley, whilst I whisper ‘Shhhhh!’ a lot. But I do enjoy his enthusiasm for the place and the fact he has his own little library card, aged only two.
And because he is two, he now seems to be picking up new words and expressions at a rate of knots. ‘Oh my goodness!’ makes us laugh and the constant ‘No, not that one, that one!’ makes us sigh. I still spend a lot of time agreeing when I just don’t have a clue what he’s saying. Curiously, it still catches me off guard when he says a sentence or repeats longer chunks of what we’ve been saying, or simply says words I didn’t know he knew, which he must have picked up from nursery. I presume this is because I spent so much time chattering away to him on maternity leave, when he couldn’t say anything back; so long waiting for him to speak. Incidentally, when that first word came, it was ‘Dada’ (not that I was indignant!).
So whilst it has always been enjoyable to read to him and show him books, it is even better now he can take part and engage and interact. His go-to classic is Giles Andreae and Korky Paul’s Sir Scallywag and the Golden Underpants, which not only do we know by heart, but provided excellent inspiration for last year’s Halloween outfit. His current favourites are Oi Frog by Kes Gray and Jim Field and Pom Pom Gets the Grumps by Sophy Henn. After reading this to him only twice, he remembered it the next morning, declaring ‘My LOVE Pom Pom!’ and asking for it on repeat, which didn’t give me the grumps because it’s so nice. We’ve also been busy with the Ladybird Learners series, helping him with first numbers, words, colours and animals. This is great fun too, as he skips from book to book, intrigued by all the bright colours and pictures he recognises, counting ‘One, two, three, shlix, nine . . .’ and exuberantly pretending to be a ‘hellyphant, Mummy.’
From when Zach was quite little, we were tipped off by a friend about some brilliant children’s YouTube channels like Toddler Fun Learning and KidsTV 123. Well. These are a total godsend for when you need something entertaining for them to look at, because you don’t have the energy to even pick up a book.
These channels are filled with short, animated songs on everything from animal sounds to the Solar System to nursery rhymes to brushing your teeth. I still hear The Solar System Song in my dreams. He watches them a bit less these days, now Peppa has stolen his heart and Thomas is his hero, but the phonics song came in handy again, when I picked up his Little Learners letters book and automatically started singing ‘A is for apple, A A apple, B is for bird, B B bird’ etc, etc, etc. Now it’s become our ‘song book’; it really makes him smile, and I feel like a very helpful mum indeed. Albeit a very out of tune one.
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