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CHoR Challenge: Open books open doors

May 28, 2020

Week 6 of #CHoR Challenge: Humans connect through language in its many forms —reading, writing, speaking and listening.

As children develop their language skills, they learn to share their ideas, knowledge and emotions with family and friends, growing into connected, rather than isolated, individuals.

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” That’s the advice that Albert Einstein, the great physicist widely regarded as a genius, gave a mother who asked him how to raise her child to become a successful scientist.

Learning is built on language

Reading and listening to stories, telling and writing stories—and even simple conversation—teaches children the art of communication. But learning to communicate is just the beginning. As children develop language skills, they build a foundation of creative and analytic thinking, the gateway through which they’ll travel to explore history, mathematics, philosophy, science and every avenue of human activity and achievement.

Language connects us

But first, children will learn to connect to the people in their world through language. It begins with a baby’s first cry. From that moment forward, a baby learns that communicating connects them to parents and others around them. They watch, listen and even mimic you, learning more with each interaction. Language skills enable children’s social development as they strike up conversations, make new friends and articulate their feelings.

Raising readers

Learning to read, in particular, supports children’s language development along with their imagination and understanding of how the world works beyond their own daily experience. A child who develops a love of reading will never be bored, will never stop growing, learning and exploring.

This week’s CHoR challenges focus on language skills

Language skills are like singing, playing a sport or riding a bike—the more children practice, the better they’ll get. Here are a few fun ways to support your children’s lives as speakers, listeners, writers and storytellers.

Take a walk and have a talk

Take a walk outside and talk about anything that captures your child’s attention, whether a bush or a bike, a bird or a bug. For each, ask your child to name the thing, describe it and share their thoughts about it. Help them along and repeat what they tell you to reinforce their learning through speaking and listening: “Do you see that bird. Do you hear it sing? Can you sing like that? How does it fly? What does it look like? Do you know what it’s called?”

Make your own puppets and put on a show

Puppet shows are a fun way for children to practice storytelling. Children who may feel shy expressing themselves in person often feel safer doing so through puppets. To make a puppet, use markers to put faces on old socks or draw puppets on paper, cut them out and glue or tape them to popsicle sticks. The back of a couch or the top of a table make a perfect stage.  

For older children, encourage them to think up a story to tell, along with different characters with speaking parts. For younger children, ask them to reenact a part of their day, one of their favorite memories or a scene that makes them upset and why. And remember, puppets aren’t just for kids—you can make your own puppets and put on a show with your child!

Learn letters with Legos or blocks

Kids love Legos—and these iconic building blocks are a powerful hands-

on way to learn, too. As a break from a book or flash cards, write large letters—capitals or lowercase—on pieces of paper and challenge your child to place Lego blocks, or other blocks, on top of the lines. Then help them say the letter and make its sound. For older children, encourage them to build complete words or even sentences out of Legos or by lining up blocks on the floor. Visit CHoR’s website to track your child’s language milestones.

“The more that you read … the more places you’ll go.”—Dr. Suess

Helping children can be as simple as reading aloud at bedtime and talking about what you’re reading. Trade screen time for book time, even for just 20 minutes a day offers rich benefits. Afterward, ask them to tell you all about what they read. An interested parent is a great motivator to read some moreand to reap the lifelong benefits of becoming a skilled communicator.

Did you miss out on previous weeks of CHoR Challenges? Check out more #CHoR Challenge blog posts with activities for kids in quarantine.

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