Parents often spend a lot of time worrying about how they can help their children grow and learn. How can you help them expand their vocabulary? How can you improve their emotional intelligence and sense of empathy? How can you help them to be ready for preschool or kindergarten when the time comes? With all these questions racing through your head, you may be surprised to learn that there is one very simple answer to all these questions—have conversations with them and read to them.
At THE Children’s Academy literacy is our primary focus because it is the building block for so many developmental steps for children. We start at infancy having conversations with your child about what is happening in their world. In addition to having conversations with your child, we are reading to them daily. As parents you can contribute by doing the same thing, conversing and reading to your child. Here are a few of the essential benefits of reading with your child every day.
Children are exposed to a broader vocabulary base through reading books than they are through everyday conversation. By reading with your child every day—and reading them new and different books as often as possible—you’re introducing them to a variety of new words and phrases. And, because most children find reading to be fun and engaging, they’ll be more likely to remember those words and derive their meanings from the context of the story.
Every parent knows that toddlers and preschoolers have a hard time holding still. This is natural for these age groups, but it can sometimes inhibit their ability to learn in a more formal setting. In fact, many preschools and kindergartens list the ability to listen and pay attention as an essential sign of readiness for school.
Sitting down together and reading a book for a few minutes allows your child to practice focusing, listening, and being attentive. Books can engage young children much more easily than other activities that require them to simply sit and listen, so it’s an excellent way for them to practice this skill in a fun setting.
Reading can also help your child develop critical thinking skills—especially if you take the time to engage your child and allow them to participate in the story. The next time you sit down with a book to read to your child, try pausing in your reading every once in a while. Ask your child questions about what has happened so far, what they think might happen next, how the characters in the book might be feeling, and so on.
By doing this, you’re helping your child practice essential critical thinking skills pertaining to cause and effect, emotional intelligence, and reading comprehension. This is an excellent way to get even more benefit out of reading time.
The benefit of reading with your child goes far beyond their mental development; it can also help strengthen the bond between you and your child and help them develop a deeper sense of security and closeness to you. Any time you spend together is excellent for forging that closeness but reading together encourages interactive dialogue as well as physical closeness by cuddling as you read.
The more often you and your child sit and read, the stronger your connection will be to one another; and, when a child has a secure emotional relationship with their parents, they’re more likely to be emotionally intelligent and empathetic towards others.
If you’re looking to use these benefits to help your child learn and grow, start a daily habit of reading with your child for at least fifteen minutes a day. Feel free to drop by our preschool in Franklin, TN, if you’d like to learn more about how we use reading as part of our curriculum at THE Children’s Academy.