Reading a story to your child at night is always a great way to put him or her to sleep. It is one of the best bedtime routines that help kids learn to relax and get the sleep they need. Because of this, reading bedtime stories to your child is a habit that you should develop regardless of your little one’s age.
Although this nightly habit already offers several benefits to your child, he or she can even gain more if you don’t confine this ritual only to bedtime. Various studies show, which the most experienced and qualified nursery teachers agree with, that reading regularly to kids (even those as young as infants) will enable them to get more from this healthy habit.
Below are seven noteworthy benefits of reading to babies and toddlers:
1) It prepares babies for reading on their own
Although your infant does not understand everything that you are saying, he or she can pick up the inflection, tone, and rhythm of your voice. Your baby is then taking in the different sounds of language and how the various words fit together.
According to experts, the more words a baby hears or is exposed to, the more he or she will be prepared to read on his or her own in the near future. Additionally, studies show that the earlier children are exposed to reading, the more they will love reading and learning in the future.
2. It supports cognitive development
Reading regularly to babies and toddlers helps them build their ability to think and understand. Whenever you read aloud to your child, you share with him or her knowledge about the world. This, in turn, will help your little one make sense of the things he or she sees and hears.
Additionally, the ensuing conversation the reading prompts further helps your child understand and build the meaning of their existence, something that is also important for the development of child cognition and perception.
3. It helps build vocabulary and language skills
Although you speak with your baby or toddler every day, the vocabulary you use may often be limited and repetitive. This is especially true if your child is still an infant and you are more likely using “baby talk” to converse with him or her.
When you read to your child every day, you ensure that your child is exposed to a wider vocabulary about various topics. This means he or she will hear more words or phrases. And the more words children know, the better since this will help them develop their language skills and fluency.
In addition, reading to your child during his or her early months also stimulates the part of the brain that allows him or her to understand the meaning of language.
4. It helps kids develop their creativity and imagination
Being creative and imaginative are skills that not only allow children to have fun and be entertained; they are essential for various aspects of learning.
When kids become engrossed with a book, they let their imagination run free. They try to visualize the setting of the story. They also try to think of possible storylines, conversations, and other ways to make these stories their own.
When children get regular opportunities to be imaginative and creative, they are also building their problem solving skills — a valuable gift everyone should have.
5. It improves concentration and self-discipline
Many toddlers have difficulties sitting still for a long time. Because of this, it is often hard to get them to focus.
By introducing regular reading to your child, he or she will change his or her behavior and learn to focus. Toddlers, in particular, may initially become easily distracted during story time. However, they will eventually learn to stay put until the story is finished.
Once reading becomes a habit for your child, you will also observe him or her becoming more disciplined and having a longer attention span — traits that will serve your child well when he or she enters school.
6. It strengthens the bond between you and your child
Any time you spend with your child is an opportunity to be closer to him or her. Whenever you read to your child and take the time to discuss the story with him or her, you bond together as well.
If you work or have a busy lifestyle, reading with your child, regardless of his or her age, is a great way to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
7. It sets your child up for lifelong success
Lastly, reading plays a huge role in your child’s lifelong learning. If you can instill in your child a love of reading at an early age, you will help him or her develop and sustain a permanent interest in learning.
Children who love reading and value books are inherently motivated to read on their own. They will likely continue to do so throughout the rest of their lives which can then help them achieve success academically and career-wise.
Whether your child is still a baby or already in nursery, make it a habit to read to him or her daily. You and your little one will reap the benefits listed above, and even more.
Lama Chivi is the CEO of Blossom by Babilou Education in the UAE. Having lived in Dubai for over 30 years, she combines the best of international practice and local expertise into this leading British Curriculum Nursery, delivering a top-tier and high-quality offering to the MENA region. The mission of Blossom by Babilou Education is to support children in building their own identity, self-discovery and awakening while respecting their own pace and their uniqueness.