This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

“I’m not a toddler I’m a baby” said my nearly two-year-old daughter not that long ago.  I often call her “baby girl” or “little one” but day by day she is continuing to grow and not look as much like the tiny little baby I could almost hold in one hand.  I recently wrote about my oldest going off to preschool for the first time…a big transition no doubt…but another big transition is seeing your youngest grow up and leave the baby phase behind.  As she is getting older and more and more capable, we are starting to think about the day when she is headed off to preschool as well (cue tears flowing). Here are a few of the things we enjoy doing with her that we feel have really helped her develop some early literacy skills.

Name coloring – My daughter really enjoys drawing, she asks me to write her name on a piece of paper and then proceeds to color all over it as well as the rest of the paper.  I make sure to write her name right in front of her and spell out each letter as I write it. She loves hearing it and now readily recognizes the first letter in her name when she sees it around the house.

Puzzles and toys – We’ve discovered that my daughter also really enjoys puzzles and especially and alphabet-picture puzzle we’ve had since my son was younger.  She really enjoys pulling out all the pieces, seeing the pictures she recognizes and putting them back. Often when she puts them back I say the name of the letter and the picture that starts with that letter.  Sometimes she’ll even repeat it back to me.

Books, books and more books! – We have never had a shortage of books around our house and while my daughter naturally gravitated towards the board books with baby pictures and fewer words when she was younger, she has really started enjoying stories of all kinds and lengths lately.  She often loves reading the same stories over and over again and has a special place in her heart for any Frozen book, but she is really starting to enjoy all kinds of stories and can also sit and pay attention to books on tape for long periods of time.

It has been really wonderful to see her own passion for reading blossom in the last few months, and I can’t wait to see where her literacy journey brings her.

This is fatherhood…