“On the other hand,” he says, “that’s probably what you want. The child is getting a rich exposure to things. They won’t understand everything. But if you’re going to err on one side or the other, you want to talk an awful lot to your kids and ask them questions about things. And you want to spend a good amount of time reading them books they’re interested in.”

word play
how can you get your kids ready to read? turn words into games, for one thing. here are some ideas.

a) play rhyming games. say two words — cat, sat — and ask your child to pick a new pair of words that rhyme. take turns.

b) take turns thinking of two words that begin with the same sound — mom, moon; dog, door; fun, fast.

c) say compound words to your child — seashell, cowboy, treehouse. then ask them to say the word back, eliminating a syllable — without the sea, without the cow, without the tree.

d) play the “say it fast” game. say a word, one sound at a time, and have your child reply at the normal speed. c/a/t from you becomes “cat” for your child.

e) talk to your child as an adult, pointing out things and identifying them, or explaining the meaning of words in stories that the child may not understand.

f) to prepare children for the vocabulary they’re likely to encounter as early readers,­ pick up the children’s writer’s word book by alijandra mogilner, which features word lists appropriate from kindergarten to sixth grade.

g) to see if children can distinguish between words and pictures, wagner suggests opening a book to a page with pictures and asking the child to point to something that can be read. “children will point to words even if they cannot read them, once they know you look at pictures but read words,” he says.