Some people doubt the benefits of reading to their kids. Why read to them, when they can watch a TV show, get a story they are interested in, have it both visually and audibly interesting, and all you have to do is push a button? It’s a serious question. It’s easy to moralize about how great reading is, but do you really think reading is such a valuable activity for your kids, or could you just be wasting your time? This article expresses why we believe reading is so important, beyond the typical explanations you may hear about improved cognition according to brain scans or personal bonding time with your kid. These are of course both true impacts of reading to them, but they both can be accomplished in other ways and make it sound like spending time with your kids should just be about improving them, which is definitely not the case. What is more, kids are fully capable of improving themselves; much more than we as adults are, actually. You may feel that reading is a worthwhile activity to engage in, but you may not fully understand where its value really lays.
Here at Leaps & Bounds Child Care in Rosemount, our daycare center is committed to providing your kids an environment that fosters their love of learning — and one of the best ways to do that is by reading to them.
The Benefits of Reading to Your Child
When your child is not at daycare, it’s important to spend time reading to them regularly (ideally daily). You want to foster the experience of learning such that they don’t associate learning only with school-type environments, but with the rest of their life as well — playtime, bedtime, etc. A child who does not understand that they are learning at home as much as they are at daycare is being set up for difficulties later on in life.
One of the key benefits of reading to your child is that it improves their understanding of language, behavioral expectations, and helps them learn how to express themselves. When parents read to their children often, it helps provide children the linguistic toolkit they need to describe what they feel and enables them to better express and control themselves when they experience strong emotions.
Unlike when watching TV, children will also be picking up on your cues and tone as you read to them, providing them important information about expectations on how to feel about certain things — e.g. aghast that the princess would run away from the castle; pleased that other rabbits accepted the outcast rabbit; etc. Kids learn through observation and modeling, so when you read to them they are picking up on all sorts of information — from what language sounds like to how you analyze the story and what difficult new words mean.
Reading strengthens children’s social, emotional, and character development, and reduces tendencies towards hyperactivity, aggression, and difficulty paying attention. Reading enhances a child’s ability to pay attention, as it calls for active listening, whereas the television is designed to demand one’s attention with regular hooks, hypnotic imagery, and shocking spectacles.
One benefit you may not have heard before is that it helps you as a parent slow down; reading to your children gets you yourself reading more, putting you in a more patient and open mindset. The pleasure of reading books to children isn’t just on their end — it can be a lot of fun and inspire parents to read more themselves.
Another thing to reflect on is how the material in books is not universally translatable to the screen. The vast majority of stories and information is not available digitally, but remains bound between two covers somewhere. Television and even now the internet are quite strongly regulated, with attention being channeled down certain avenues. If you want your child to be more of a free thinker, with an imagination not simply tied to the zeitgeist, consider reading them stories from different times and with unique perspectives. Doing so will really exercise their imagination as well as help spark a curiosity and thirst for learning.
One thing that is important to remember here is that 89% of kids from ages 6-17 say that their favorite books are the ones that they picked out themselves. So make sure they have a bookshelf available with books to choose from.
Traditionally, good children’s books are didactic. The best children’s books teach kids things without them even realizing it. For example, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle teaches kids about colors, fruit, healthy eating, and hope for the future.
Advertise the Joy of Reading!
Our goal at Leaps and Bounds in Rosemount is to motivate your kids to want to read so that they will start practicing reading independently and become fluent readers. This happens when they enjoy reading. Just as burger restaurants are successful advertising to children and getting them wanting a cheeseburger, so you can advertise to your kids poems or stories and get them passionate about reading.
Being able to comprehend and engage with printed words is a crucial step in the development of children. However, reading is more than just a practical tool, it is also a way to enrich our minds, get new perspectives, learn things beyond what we could have ever imagined, and also relax and enjoy some leisure time.
With your help, we can instill in your child a lifelong love of reading and give them the tools they need to be more successful, happier, and more of a self-learner than otherwise would have been the case. If you want to learn more about the importance of reading to your kid or to learn about how we integrate reading into our daycare activities, contact Leaps and Bounds Child Care today for more information!