It is a widely known fact that reading is beneficial to all of us. Those who read regularly as children are proven to do better socially, intellectually and emotionally. However, we wonder: can a child be too young to be exposed to the prospect of reading?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading to very young children can improve their language skills, foster literacy development and help with other less tangible qualities:
“Parents who spend time reading to their children create nurturing relationships, which is important for a child’s cognitive, language and social-emotional development,”
Here are ten key benefits of reading to our little ones:
1) Building a stronger bond with you. As children grow, they become more and more independent; playing, running around and constantly exploring. Snuggling up with a book gives both of you the opportunity to slow down and enjoy some cuddles, especially with today’s hectic lifestyles. With time, reading will become a focal part of the day which you will both look forward to.
2) Academic performance. One of the proven benefits of reading to toddlers and pre-schoolers is that of being prepared for learning in general. Research shows that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to fare well in all aspects of formal education.
Exposing young children to books helps them see reading as a fun activity rather than a chore they have to do.
3) Basic speech. Reading to your child will help him or her reinforce the basic sounds that form language. In fact ‘pretend reading’ which is when a toddler leafs through pages of a book and coos with delight, is a very important pre-literacy activity.
4) Learning the basics of reading. Children are not innately born with the knowledge of how a book is read from left to right or that words are separate from images. Learning these pre-reading skills is one of the major benefits of early reading.
Early reading has been linked to a better understanding of the rules of language as children approach school age.
5) Communication skills. By witnessing the relationships and interactions between the characters in the books you read to them, children gain valuable communication skills. When you spend quality time reading to them, they are also learning how to relate and communicate with you, and are more likely to express themselves and relate to other people in a healthy manner.
6) Understanding language. Early reading to toddlers has been linked to a better grasp of the rules of language as they approach school age.
7) The view that reading is fun. Exposing young children to books helps them see reading as a fun activity rather than a chore they have to do. Children who are exposed to reading at a young age, are much more likely to choose books over television, tablet games and other forms of entertainment as they grow older.
Children who are exposed to reading at a young age, are much more likely to choose books over television and other forms of entertainment as they grow older.
8) Familiarisation with new experiences. As your child goes through a new experience or a major developmental milestone, such as starting nursery or potty training or even tasting something new, sharing a relevant story is a great way to help make the transition an easier one.
9) Developing a routine. Setting a schedule with your child helps develop healthy sleep routines if you read before bed. It eases children into sleep and provides structure.
10) Better concentration and listening skills. At first, very young children may resist staying still for story time but that is ok, eventually they will learn to stay put for an entire story. Once children start getting used to being read to, they will learn to become more self-disciplined and gain memory retention and listening skills, all of which will serve them when entering school.
Keep books where your children can easily reach them allowing them to spontaneously explore.
Here are some simple tips we found that should help make reading to your child easier, and fun for both of you:
- Try and make the reading experience interactive, thought-provoking, exciting, and educational.
- Since children imitate our behavior, let your child see you read books. Let them know that reading is a part of life.
- Let your child feel that reading a book with him is a pleasurable and enjoyable experience, and not a stressful activity that you are forcing him to do.
Take books with you as forms of entertainment on long trips and places where you have to wait.
- Try and develop a habit of reading to your child at the same time each day, or at least several times a week. Choose a time when you and your child are both relaxed and not rushed.
- Sometimes, your child may like a particular book and want to read it repeatedly. Do not discourage this, since the fact that he is enjoying it is what is most important at this stage.
- Teach your child to treasure books and treat them with respect, keeping them clean and in good condition.
- Keep books where your children can easily reach them allowing them to spontaneously explore them on their own.
- Take books with you as forms of entertainment on long trips and places where you have to wait like the doctor’s office.
Special thanks to Monsoon Children for the stunning clothes, shoes and accessories, M&J Photos Studio International for the photography, Gaia and Nina Blog for styling and of course our little ‘models’ Maya, Gaia and Julia for being so well behaved.
Article by Davinia Mallia Pulé. For more articles and tips, like the BuzyMummy Facebook page.