Early Learning

Baby Sign Language

If you've been attending our virtual Baby Time, you might have learned a sign or 2 by now! We share a new baby sign every month and practice using it. A few parents have reported back to us that their little one is using the signs already! Here are a few to get you started. American Sign Language is one way for your infant or toddler to communicate with you before they can speak the words. Try it out! 

Or look over some of our recorded Baby Times on our storytime page or YouTube channel


COVID-19 for Early Childhood

If you want reliable, up to date information on COVID-19 and how it all relates to your family, visit the Governor's Office of Early Childhood. You'll find a wealth of information, including all of their previous posts on research from the Health Department, Food and Drug Administration and more. Accurate information helps guide you in making the best decisions for you and your family. 




Cabin Fever Fun for Little Ones!

Are you looking for something different to do at home with your little one? The Illinois Early Learning Project has a lengthy list of great ideas you can easily implement: bubble wrap road, copycat clean-up, freeze dance, and so much more! Find a new favorite past time!

photo of maother and baby talking to each other

Talking & Singing

As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. This will help children understand the meaning of what they read.

  • Make sure your children have a lot of opportunities to talk with you, not just listen to you talk.
  • Respond to what your children say and extend the conversation. 
  • If English isn’t your first language, speak to your children in the language you know best. This allows you to explain things more so your children will learn more.


Singing slows down language so children can hear the different sounds in words. This helps when children begin to read printed language. 

  • Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters. 
  • Clap along to the rhythm in songs so children hear the syllables in words.
  • When you sing, babies are drawn to the sound of your voice and to the playful sounds of words and rhymes.
photo of mother reading with babies


Reading together helps children learn how books work. Shared reading also helps children develop an interest in reading and want to learn to read themselves.

  • Point to words and letters. Name the letters and make their sounds.
  • Read to your children in the language that is most comfortable for you so you can talk about the book more.
  • Make reading together an enjoyable activity, and your child will want to repeat it again and again.
Photo of kids and parents writing together


Children can learn pre-reading skills through writing. Both reading and writing represent spoken language and communicate information. 

  • Writing begins with scribbles and marks. Give your children many opportunities to draw and write. Keep crayons, markers or magnetic letters within reach.
  • Encourage babies to grip toys, which helps build their hand muscles so they can write later on.
  • Talk to your children about what they draw, and write captions or stories together.