Reading to Kids

20 September 2022

Infants and small children absorb everything around them in lightning speed. Just use a naughty word once and see how quickly and clearly they repeat it. Reading to your child helps develop their brain and will extend the bond you have with them.

Sitting in a comfortable chair with your child on your lap, you open a book with colorful drawings and words on the page. While you may think this is just keeping them occupied, they are actually learning. Yes, toddlers will probably wander around the room and the book may become a snack if they are teething, but it is still beneficial.

Reading gives you a one-on-one bonding experience. It also allows you a little downtime from the wild and electronic world you live in. Studies show that it increases the child’s feeling of security. It is an excellent way to introduce your child to listening skills. Experts explain that a child can comprehend before they read. If you are able to give the characters in the book silly voices or add gestures, this adds to the entertainment value for both of you.

A study revealed that higher scores in language skills, cognitive abilities, and comprehension are registered in children who were read to as infants and an ongoing study indicates that these increased abilities extend to the adolescent years.

Books will often use different names or descriptors for animals or vocabulary that your child hasn’t been exposed to as yet. These all increase verbal skills and will help stimulate inquisitveness. Books are sometimes humorous and creative which can help increase attention spans and memory skills. These are also wonderful tools to stimulate imaginations.

Many authors recognize the need for children to deal with real life situations including divorce or illness or making friends or relocating. They have an ability to explain the emotions or situations in age-appropriate language which is often an aid and supplement to discussing these issues to help children cope.

How early should you start reading to your child? Now. Babies, toddlers, and children of all ages benefit from being read to by anyone. This means nannies, grandparents, parents, teachers, or anyone can participate in this process. You don’t need to buy books. Your community library is one of the most under utilized services around. That means you have a vast array of choices and it costs you nothing.

Infants less than 6 months old are best served with books with large pictures in bright or primary colors. Talk to your baby as you let their eyes focus on the images. From then to about a year old you can include books with simple lines of text…A is for Apple, etc. As your child ages, the complexity should increase. At meal times include a discussion of the book and what has happened in the story line. That can increase comprehension and retention.

Tips include being consistent in terms of a routine. You don’t need to have a wide range of books because kids like to hear the same stories over and over again. You do need to carve out enough time to give this as much attention as possible. Make it seem enjoyable to your child rather than a chore for you to complete at the end of a long day. If you prefer, you can look at pictures in a magazine and make up stories about what the pictures show.

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