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Flashback to…well not so long ago when you were a little child. The golden period of your life when playing in the garden or in the park with your friends all day long mattered more than anything else. Tired and sleepy at night, all you wanted was your favorite storybook and someone to read it out to you.
It didn’t necessarily have to be your mom or dad always. If you’ve lived with grandparents growing up, you’d know the joy of listening to a story from grandma or grandpa. And of dozing off in their lap as they went about reading it to you word-by-word, showing you pictures until realizing that you’d slept off.
The very small and simple but precious joys of life until finally TV, mobile phones, video games, and endless apps entered the picture.
Switch back to the present - 2020 - when our kids’ day starts with either TV, laptop, iPad, or a mobile phone in hand - a device that means the world to them. Of course, simple acts like playing in the garden or park don’t appeal as much anymore.
And the bedtime routine? Well, some of our kids haven’t really experienced the joy of reading or having been read out a story from a paperback/hardcover story book. Not their fault, really. The simple reason being a lot has changed from the times we were kids to the present age.
Life has begun to move at a faster pace. We’re pressed for time. We’re stressed and deeply tired. The result: playing a bedtime story on a mobile app or even Alexa (the new trend these days) seems like a far better option (both for parents and kids).
Nothing absolutely wrong with that here, except for just one small thing - well, there is no app that can replace a parent’s lap.
And it’s scientifically proven now. Reading out loud to your kids can help them in several ways (which I’ll be talking about in this post). And you know the best part? This is despite the fact that they already know reading! Reading out to them still makes a lot of difference.
Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. [Emilie Buchwald, award-winning children’s author]
Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Definitely Read Out Loud to Your Kids (Even If They Know How to Read)
1. It helps improve child’s vocabulary
The first few years of a child’s life are the formative years - meaning the time your child would learn the maximum from both the parents and at school. Now, research shows that those babies whose parents keep talking to them a lot tend to learn more words and even grasp things faster. They might even start talking sooner than the others.
Reading bedtime stories out loud to your kids further helps them grasp newer words and understand much broader concepts. When kids enter preschool, they already understand a far wider array of words. How does this help, you might think? The child’s going to school; they’d anyway pick up newer vocabulary there. Agreed.
But if the child already knows a lot of the language (preferably the medium of instruction at school), they’d be in a much better position to understand and grasp from the teachers. In other words, perform much better in terms of academic learning.
Try reading out a new book to the child every few days, preferably those covering varied topics, so the child’s able to follow a variety of words, meanings and concepts at an early age.
And if the child is older and already knows how to read themselves, they’d still learn a lot from you when you read out from books they haven’t read before. Stop and ask what they haven’t understood or if they want you to explain any specific concept.
2. It helps grow the child’s brain, no kidding!
Yes, there is enough research to substantiate that reading out loud to the child actually helps grow more neurons in their brain.
A study led by Dr. John S. Hutton, pediatrician, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Ohio, showed that when young kids were told a story, certain parts in the left side of their brain became active.
These parts of the brain work on understanding word meanings and concepts and are also involved in memory. Interestingly, these same parts of the brain have also been known to be active when older kids listen to stories or when they read themselves.
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3. It encourages a lifetime reading habit
The advantage? You’re helping your child get on the path to becoming an avid learner; a curious, inquisitive being who’d be eager to explore the mysteries of the universe.
Of course, when they’re younger, they’d fancy simple stories with a moral to pick up from but as they grow older, they’d be thirsty to learn more, about concepts much wider than what they already know of or learn at school.
And the base for all this starts by reading aloud to them. Only then they’d grow up into avid readers themselves.
4. It helps improve child’s behavior
This particularly helps children who’re usually restless or even show signs of aggressive behavior. Reading out stories of interest to them would help these kids pay more attention and concentrate. You can even play out the story like a game, telling them that you’d be asking questions in the end. This would keep them at one place for some time.
Listening to a story can also be used as a fine tact to improve aggressive behavior in kids. You can tell them a story of a similar child and what happened to him/her when they were aggressive. Trust me, kids learn moral life values far better through stories than when directly instructed.
5. It helps you bond better with your child
This is where your lap comes of great use. Make your child sit or even lie down in your lap when you read out a bedtime story to them. The best time of your day meant exclusively for you both, when you can bond and emotionally connect with your child, more than at any other time in the day.
The best part? Your kids would also fondly remember and cherish these moments of physical closeness with their parents in these growing up years.
It’s only these first few years that your kids are actually going to be physically close to you. Once they grow older, neither would they want you to read out to them nor would they sit in your lap! So why not grab every opportunity now that comes along?
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