The first five years of your child’s life are the most vital in helping them to develop skills and habits to become successful in life. More than 80% of a child’s brain is developed by age 3, so it’s no wonder that the first three years of a child’s life are referred to as the “Golden Years” for brain development and strengthening. Reading, talking, and singing with your child each day will help them build confidence, stimulate their brain, and expose them to many different language skills.
First 5 California’s Talk. Read. Sing.® campaign aims to inspire parents to talk, read, and sing to their children daily to encourage these healthy habits and brain benefits. Talking, reading, and singing require little preparation or equipment, so they’re perfect to do at home with your child; however, a change of scenery and a chance to get out of the house can also be nice, so I’ve put together this list of free places where you can talk, read, and sing with your child.
Pottery Barn Kids
The popular children’s home decor store hosts a weekly story time from 11-11:30 on Tuesdays (select stores, check your local store for availability).
Barnes & Noble (and other bookstores)
Local bookstores may also host story time as well as other children’s events. Check the Barnes & Noble website to find events in your area. Bookstores are also a great place to choose books to read with your child. Take your time and explore different kinds of books to see which ones your child likes best.
Local Musical Entertainment & Free Outdoor Concerts
Local free music events are a great place to sing and dance with your little one! Many towns host free concerts in the park during the summer, and free family-friendly concerts can often be found at churches, schools and recreation centers. Check your local city website or parks & recreation for more details.
Meetup groups are a great place to meet other parents who are interested in playing, talking, reading, and singing with their children. Local groups often arrange park playdates, library days, music classes, dance lessons, and more. Connect with fellow parents, and enjoy a fun day with your child at the same time!
Picnic in the Park
A picnic in the park is a great way to enjoy some uninterrupted time with your child. Blow some bubbles, read a book, swing in the breeze, and listen as your little one talks to you. It’s also a great place to enjoy a one-on-one “kid date” if you have a large family!
Visit Your Local Library
The library is a wealth of opportunities to read (and sometimes even sing!) with your child. Most local libraries regularly host story times and other children’s activities on a regular basis. Our library hosts a weekly Mother Goose on the Loose class for infants and toddlers (music and reading) as well as story time and cultural/holiday lessons and activities for kids of all ages. The library is my favorite resource!
When I was a child, my grandmother would take me to her local library every month, and we would spend hours getting lost in the stacks and reading books all day before heading home with armloads more. My grandmother was also the woman who inspired me to be creative and gave me the freedom to experiment with all of her art supplies, and I contribute a lot of my “how I got here” to her (and the library!).
I take my boys to the library often, and I can see their love of reading grow with each visit (especially my five-year-old who is currently reading a Harry Potter chapter book all on his own!). For homeschooling families like ours, the library is an essential resource, and it provides a valuable free opportunity to expose your children to all kinds of books and reading activities.
The First 5 California website is also a great resource for families, and it includes a Learning Center full of information and support for parents of newborns, babies, toddlers and preschoolers. The site also features an Activity Center with all kinds of fun things that parents can do with their kids right from home to help stimulate the mind, so be sure to check it out!