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Editor’s note: This is the third installment in our six-part feature defining The Palmetto Basics, which includes tips on easy, practical ways to bring them to life in your home.

Simple interactions can reap big rewards as babies grow and develop. By remembering to talk, sing and point about everyday events and activities, parents and caregivers can help children learn to speak, read and communicate.

Talk, Sing and Point is the second of five Palmetto Basics. The Palmetto Basics is a statewide campaign that gives parents, grandparents and caregivers the basics of early learning for children before birth to age 5, with an emphasis on birth – 3 years.

“Talk, sing and point is really the beginning of language and literacy development,” said Amity Buckner, executive director of Pickens County First Steps. “We know that all language and literacy development happens in the context of relationships. That foundation teaches our children how to live in relationships later in life.”

The use of electronic devices – almost from birth – is having a devastating impact on that interaction.

“We are not recognizing how screen time is going to impact the way this generation of children will interact with people,” Buckner said.

When parents and caregivers talk with children, sing with them and point out objects, it engages children in conversation – what Buckner calls a serve and return.

“Imagine a volleyball game,” she said. “Ask a question and allow some wait time for them to respond.”

Simple activities like reading logos, talking about what is happening and getting down on a child’s eye level to interact can provide the foundation for important development.

Car time can be important, too, especially on the busiest days.

“It’s tiring when you pick your child up from day care, but seize that opportunity,” Buckner said. “Have a conversation or sing songs.”

Bucker said the basics are simple, but they are critical to child development.

“Being mindful and intentional is what’s it’s all about,” she said. “We try to make childhood complicated, and it’s not.”

Tell stories. Sing to your child. “When we’re stressed, we want to elevate our voice,” Buckner said. “If we choose to sing what we are trying to communicate, it lowers our voice and soothes our temperament.”

Use real words rather than baby talk.

Add on to a child’s comments. When a child says, “There’s a house,” add, “That’s a blue house.” This builds vocabulary.

All languages are equally helpful. Parents should use the language that is most comfortable for them.

Point to items so children can connect new words to objects.

Don’t stop talking with children as they enter the tween and teen years. Conversations foster relationships.

Engage with others by going to the park or attending a children’s program at the library.

Learn more and get more tips at http:// palmetto.thebasics.org/en/the-basics/ talk-sing-and-point.

The Greenville County Library System has launched the Little Learners Club, a challenge designed especially for preschool children that encourages participation in Palmetto Basics-inspired activities. Pick up a Little Learners Club activity log at any Greenville County Library System location. The log is used to track participation in the suggested activities. No rush to finish. Just complete by kindergarten. And then, bring the log into any GCLS location to pick up prizes. Learn more at www.greenvillelibrary.org/kids/ little-learners-club.

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