As parents, we are our children's first (and best!) teachers. We teach them to talk, to walk, to go potty, to feed themselves, to dress themselves, to use their manners, etc.
We are CONSTANTLY teaching!
One of the best things we can do for our children to set the foundations for their learning to read, write, and all other literacy type skills, is to READ to them. Read all the time to your children. Point out signs on the road. Read cereal boxes. Let them look at the menu when you go out to eat and tell you what they want to eat. Let them order. Allow them to help make a grocery list and point out things at the grocery store. Read, Read, Talk, Ask them questions, Read, Read, Talk, Ask them questions.....
There are days when we are so busy and have a million things to do and is easier to just turn on the tv. We have to fit in time for our kids, to give them that extra attention. They are learning from us no matter what. So what is it they are learning?
I never feel like I have time to do anything besides homework and some other chores around the house (although, those keep falling farther and farther behind too!), but I've made a resolution to get back to the way things were. Remember when you had your firstborn? You didn't think about ANYTHING else most of the day. That baby was your #1 priority and you talked, and cooed, and played, and made silly faces.... We have to get back to that.
Just one more rant, and then I'm done...About the time you notice your baby trying to talk (usually about 9 months or so), STOP the baby talk. Use grown up words and use lots of them.
Okay. Now go read to your children. ;)