Telling stories is one of the longest lasting traditions of mankind. Even before written words were invented, stories were passed down from generation to generation and have mesmerized children for centuries. Kids today still love hearing stories and being read to, especially from their parents. While tucking your child into bed and reading to them can be a calming night-time routine, research has proven that reading to kids can have several other benefits, too. Read on to learn more about why you should read to your children regularly.
Behavior and Attention
It’s believed that when children are read to, they learn how to empathize with the characters and learn how to describe new feelings. Instead of acting out, children are able to identify their emotions and learn how to handle difficult feelings, such as anger or sadness. Parents who tend not to read to their kids raise the chances that their toddler may have attention difficulties or increased levels of aggression. These issues may persist throughout childhood and could lead to issues with concentrating at school.
One study that focused on children from just a few months old through 5 years old showed that reading to children can help them develop better self-control and decrease hyperactivity. Children need to stay still and quiet so they can enjoy the story, which can be hard for kids to do in other circumstances. Dr. Mendelsohn, one of the leaders of this study, stated that, “The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young...it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior.”
Interest in Books
Reading to your child, even while they’re just a year old, can encourage “pre-literacy” and help them develop an interest in reading. Toddlers enjoy looking at the pictures, hearing about the heroes of the story, and turning the pages of the books. Toddlers often like to ask questions while being read to, and this should be encouraged! Answering their questions will help them increase their vocabulary while learning more about their world.
Children aged 3-5 usually become motivated to learn how to read if they were read to often during their earlier years. If they enjoyed a certain story their parent had read to them before, they may pick it up on their own and try to read it themselves. For preschoolers, having the intrinsic motivation to read will help them immensely when they enter kindergarten.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) discovered that young children who are read to at home are more likely to be able to write their own names, count to 20, and recognize all the letters of the alphabet before other children. Kids who have been read to often have larger vocabularies and better language skills when they begin going to school, or they may already be reading independently.
As your child grows older and continues to read on their own, their reading comprehension and writing skills are likely to improve as they subconsciously notice sentence structures and other key elements of writing. It’s also shown that children who read more often typically score better in all kinds of subjects, not just English!
Reading a variety of different books to your child can cause them to become fascinated by a certain topic. They may ask questions about a specific place or job or want to read more about the subject. Having the desire for more knowledge at a young age can help invoke a natural curiosity about their world and lead to a love of learning. When a child enters school, they will be more excited and motivated to work than other classmates who aren’t thirsty for knowledge.
Parents should encourage their child’s interests and find books that appeal to them. This also gives parents the opportunity to explain different topics to their kids and answer any questions they may have. Learning about several different aspects of the world helps to foster compassion, imagination, and motivation for young children, and these benefits may all come simply from nightly bedtime stories. One study conducted in 2004 followed a group of 4-5 year old children who were read to by their parents and found that by the time they were 10-11, they were more likely to enjoy reading than other children.
Have Quality Time
The quality of reading is much more important than the quantity of books you read to your child. Try to not rush through books! Instead, take your time showing your child the pictures, explaining different words, or asking questions about the story. Making sure your child is engaged is the most important part of spending quality time with them. To help your child focus, ask questions about the pictures, or ask them how the main character might be feeling. The key is to spark curiosity and imagination, and your child’s interests and motivation will grow from there.
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