Toddlers learn by turns Advice and strategies to help...


June 04, 2000

Toddlers learn by turns

Advice and strategies to help your children read

Editor's Note: Jerdine Nolen continues her series on language development skills. Her column appears biweekly.

We acquire language out of the need to communicate with others. These interactions help us develop oral language. In the very early stages of this development, a child begins to make sense of the sounds and gestures she hears and sees. She learns the importance of taking turns. Someone speaks while others listen. She comes to school understanding verbal communication. The school's job is to build upon what the child knows through motivation and careful instruction toward independent reading and writing.


put two or more words together to make short sentences, like "car go"

learn new words quickly, especially "no" and "not"

can copy adult sounds, words and motions

ask and answer simple questions

use crayons and markers for scribbling

enjoy looking at picture books, turning pages and naming objects they see

What You Can Do:

Help your toddler learn new words to talk about what she did in the past and will do in the future. "I think it's going to be a sunny day tomorrow. What would you like to do?"

Discuss the day's events at bedtime. "Remember when we went to the park?"

Play make-believe, use props and puppets, dress-up clothes.

Arrange special reading times.

Read some of the books over and over, encourage your toddler to join in with the words she knows.

A resident of Ellicott City, Jerdine Nolen is the award-winning children's author of "Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm" and "Raising Dragons." She is a former teacher and administrator in elementary education, and has personally field-tested her suggestions on her son and daughter.

When learning clicks

Reading online should be a breeze for Gen I (Internet) members, who come into the world clicking mouses and screaming for faster modem speeds.

The computer monitor doesn't seem so cold when set abuzz with interactive story-times specifically geared toward techno-savvy tykes. If you want to connect to this brave new world, a good bridge would be Children's Storybooks Online, a Web site that is able to inject creative effects and educational touchstones into a non-intimidating experience.

Established in 1996, it features 16 original stories by children's authors with color illustrations. These books are separated into categories for younger and older children, as well as young adults. Click from one page to the next to follow each story to its conclusion. Riddles, mazes and coloring book pages are other activities that should keep kids busy in between stories like "Round Bird Can't Fly," "Kitty Wants a Box," and "Buzz Bee and Friends." Basic counting and alphabet stories give young children a solid base for building higher reading skills. Embark on this gentle introduction to what the future holds by going to index.html#books.

-- Athima Chansanchai

On Wednesdays: The Just for Kids section with read-aloud story, puzzles and poster

The Sun's readers tell their success stories and offer tips on encouraging children to read.

Books anywhere, at any time

"We take books everywhere we go, as well as in all rooms of the house. Read while they are in the tub, at the doctor's, dentist, in the car, under a tree, at the beach, at the pool, in bed, in a tent, on a picnic -- you get the idea, just read!"

-- Alice O'Malley, Baltimore

On the road, page by page

"When planning a vacation, let the children participate in planning the activities. Encourage them to research their activity (i.e. the origin of miniature golf)." -- Mary King, Pasadena

Role models are important

"When a child asks for something -- such as toys, food, or time to watch TV -- ask her to spell the word out, write it down and read it back to you. Make drives more interesting for her by asking words that rhyme with words she sees on road signs."

-- Will Colquhoun, Glen Burnie

The Sun invites readers to send in tips about encouraging children to read, and we will print them on this page or on, our place on the Internet. Please include your name, town and daytime phone number. Send suggestions by fax to 410-783-2519; by e-mail to; or by mail to Reading by 9 Parent Tips, The Sun, Features Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278.

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