Pre Birth to 3

It’s never too early to have an impact on the literacy development of your child.

Your child is always learning from you

It’s really important that your baby gets the best start they can in life. Argyll and Bute’s developmental milestones document can help you to consider some activities you can share with your child to encourage their growth and development:developmental milestones parental guidance

Talking with your child is massively important, even if they can’t talk back. They learn how to communicate by watching your facial expressions and by learning to distinguish between your voice and surrounding noise. Be wary of the following:
  • Front facing buggies mean that your child is facing out rather than towards you – make sure that you create extra time for the two of you to bond.
  • Constant noise from the tv can interfere with a baby’s ability to distinguish between foreground and background noise – make sure you have times when the tv isn’t on.
  • Films don’t have a spoken narrative – i.e. the story is told by people speaking, not by someone telling you what’s happening. Learning about story structures is important for young people so make sure you read to them.


“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents”
Emilie Buchwald

Sharing books with your child is a great way to build your relationship with them.  Even the physical experience of turning pages helps develop young muscles for later writing. Trips to the library can be a fun early excursion. Details of your local library services can be found here.

There are lots of organisations that can give you ideas about what to do to develop early literacy skills. Here are some of them:

Every child in Scotland, from birth to P1, is given a BookBug Bag at age 1, 1-2, 3 and 5. There are also Gaelic bags. You don’t have to sign up for this – they will come through a health visitor or childcare provider. More information about BookBug and activities you can do with your child can be found here. 

Education Scotland’s Every day’s a learning day resource has lots of ideas for encouraging early literacy and health and well beding.

The Communication Trust provide useful information and downloads to help support you as your child grows in understanding:

Education Scotland’s Parentzone also provides advice and support on developing the literacy skills of your child, including the importance of play and fun ideas to encourage good reading habits.

The National Literacy Trust’s Words for Life website has lots of advice as to how to give your child the best start in literacy.


Don’t forget the importance of singing old nursery rhymes which can help your child to recognise specific sounds. They’ve lasted so long because they’re useful and they work! But putting them on a tablet or screen is not as good as letting your child hear you use the language – it doesn’t matter whether you can sing or not; your child isn’t going to judge you.

Before your child can move onto holding pens and pencils, it’s important that they’ve developed fine motor controls. The following are all great activities to do which develop these muscles:

  • plasticine
  • jigsaws
  • scissors
  • threading
  • hammers
  • sticky blocks
  • spinning tops