A new campaign is under way in Douglas County to improve children’s language skills.

It’s called Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing.

Douglas County received a grant to take part in the national campaign, which is a Clinton Foundation effort funded by a number of groups including Gerber, the YMCA and Highlights magazine.

The local coordinator of the campaign, which is part of the Douglas County Early Childhood Initiative, is Kathy Werk.

“There is a national trend that has been noticed that kids are entering school with a decrease in language skills,” Werk said. “The educators feel it is due to a lack of talking, reading and singing to younger children (especially under age 3) because it is in those early years that language skills develop.”

Werk added that talking, reading and singing every day from birth helps build brains as well as important language, math, reading and social skills for use in schools and beyond.

Parents, she added, should talk, read and sing with their young children in the language they are most comfortable using.

Tips from the campaign:

For infants


  • When they coo, coo back and when they smile, smile back.

  • Everywhere you go, talk about what you see and what your baby is looking at.

  • As you feed your baby, use words to describe what foods taste, feel and look like.

  • Looking into your baby’s eyes, holding your baby’s hands and talking to your baby in a high voice are all ways that you can help your child grow up to be a confident, loving adult.


  • Read a book or tell a story to your baby everyday beginning at birth.

  • Cuddle with your baby as you share a book.

  • Point to the book’s pictures – “Look, the train goes choo-choo!”


  • Hold your baby close during bedtime and sing a favorite song again and again.

  • Sing silly songs about your day to help get your baby’s attention during diaper changing.

  • Your baby loves to hear your voice even if you can’t sing. The sound of your voice is comforting to your baby.

For toddlers


  • Everywhere you go, talk about what you see.

  • Young children learn best during playful, everyday activities.

  • Try some early math activities – point out shapes on your child’s plate or around the kitchen.

  • Play games during bath time to help your child learn new words.


  • You can inspire a love of books and words in your young child by reading or telling a story together every day.

  • Point to the pictures, letters and numbers in books.

  • Let your child turn the book’s pages.


  • Sing during everyday activities like driving in a car or during bath time.

  • Singing songs that have basic counting or rhyming patterns also helps children learn basic math skills.

  • Your toddler loves to get positive attention from you. Singing is a great way for you and your toddler to share an activity together.