Fun bus tour has serious side too

The initiative encourages quality time with children
The initiative encourages quality time with children

Giving younger members of the family the best possible start in life is child’s play.

The PlayTalkRead Roadshow, funded through the Scottish Government’s Smarter Scotland initiative, was a popular event when it spent a day in Falkirk as part of a nationwide tour.

Happy families climbed aboard ‘Bessie the Bus’ to enjoy the fun which included books, toys, interactive storytelling and song, rhythm and rhyme sessions.

The Roadshow is a key part of the government’s Early Years campaign for birth to three-year-olds. Activities on ‘Bessie’ include demonstrating easy ways for parents to interact with their children during their early years and find out more about lots of low-cost ideas which can all be done at home and be easily incorporated into the daily routine.

It’s simple – kids love having fun and they also love having fun with you, so it’s important to make play part of their day from the earliest possible age.

By playing, talking and reading with your little one you’ll not only help them enjoy themselves, you’ll help them grow, gain new skills and get the best start in life.

And remember, it is never too early to get involved.

Babies, for example, might not be able to speak yet, but that doesn’t stop them wanting to ‘talk’. They will do their best to connect with you by moving their faces, making different sounds and using body language. Of course, they will cry a lot too, but when they are settled and awake that’s a good time to ‘have a chat’.

Babies love to watch your face, so get in close so baby can see you properly, and making lots of eye contact and talking in a warm, loving voice will produce a wonderful response. Remember to smile. If you do, the chances are you will get a smile right back!

Later on in the ‘adventure’ when your toddler starts making two and three word sentences your conversations will get better and better.

Showing them you are listening is a great way to make them feel special and also means that when you talk they’ll learn how to listen. This is a great time to talk about emotions too, so that when a feeling comes along they will be able to put a name to it.

Feelings can be a bit overwhelming for toddlers – especially when someone takes away their favourite toy in the middle of a game. By reacting to their reaction by saying “I see you are angry” they will be able to recognise that feeling when it comes around again. It’ll help them learn to get on better with other people and understand their feelings too.

The Scottish Government’s Bookbug programme aims to provide free books to every child from baby to primary one. The website is filled with tips about the best places to get books and suggestions for stories your child will love.