Do you read to your kids every day?
Are you aware of all the benefits of reading to your child? The bonding and closeness of sitting together creates a strong relationship. It helps develop their vocabulary, comprehension and listening skills. It encourages curiosity and creativity. They are also more likely to read more on their own as they grow up. Once in school, they will be more prepared to learn.
So, is reading a book before bedtime every night a good idea? Of course, but the real question to ask here is do you know HOW to read to your kids?
I’m talking about active reading with your child. When you read a book, you might be telling a story, but the best way for your child to learn is for you to actually display what the story is about.
Active reading is possible at any age with the appropriate actions from mom or dad. With a child under the age of one, pointing and identifying objects on a page is a great way to get started. At this age, you want to help them comprehend what they are seeing and associate it with a word. By pointing and enunciating the word, they are more likely to have better speech development. Another important lesson at this age is allowing them to use their senses. “Touch and feel” books are already active on their own by having the child feel the different textures with their hands.
As your baby gets older, books that contain the alphabet or numbers can be actively read in several ways. When looking at each letter, be sure to help your child trace the letter with their finger. Identify the sound of the letter. If it is a picture of an “A” next to an apple, have your child find the A in the word. Go over what sound it makes. Use the picture to offer more lessons. What color is the apple? Where can you find apples? Not only will you find multiple lessons in the book, but it creates a new story every time you read.
When your child can speak and is beginning to play with others, books with morals can lead to discussions about how to interact with others. As you read, take time to find out if your child understands what is happening. Ask if characters are mad, sad or happy and why. Point to pictures to discuss what is going on. You can even ask if your child knows what will happen next or what he thinks should happen. This will lead to instilling good morals and decision making.
Even books that you think may be nonsense can still provide a valuable lesson. Use the pictures to initiate conversation about what is happening. Name colors or objects. Ask your child if she thinks that could really happen. Have her repeat a word or phrase that seems silly for a good laugh and practice with pronunciation. Also, with any book that you read, have fun with it. Use silly voices for dialogue. Make elaborate gestures like the characters. The more fun your child has with reading, the more likely they will continue doing so on their own.
Learning doesn’t start at school; it starts in your home. When you build a strong foundation before sending them off to school, they are much more likely to succeed. If you feel like life is too busy to sit down and read, make sure to at least do it at bedtime. A bedtime routine helps your child settle down and fall asleep easier each night. They will even be less likely to put up a fight when it’s time to get their pajamas on because they know it means some quality time with mom or dad.