For the Love of Reading
The human brain is an incredible learning machine. Research shows that reading aloud, singing and interacting lovingly with your baby expose his brain to over 10 million words of raw data that sets the foundation for literacy skills, Although your baby may not understand what you’re saying, repeated exposure to words helps his brain to strengthen the neural connections for acquiring language.
In other words, your baby needs you to interact and converse with him, point out interesting things in the world, and react to his responses to build his vocabulary. Even if he is still in the babbling stage, he is learning a lot about language through the rhythm, tones and inflections of your voice as you respond to the sounds he makes.
In fact, a six-month old can already recognise the vowel sounds that are the basic building blocks of speech, and by the age of 1 will have learned all the sounds needed to speak his native language.
Now what better way to expose your child to words than through reading! Reading not only boosts your baby’s analytical thinking, but it also improves writing skills and memory! Here are a few tips to develop active reading habits in your child:
Be a good model
Children love to imitate. So unless your child sees that you read frequently and daily, it will not reinforce the idea that reading is a part of every day life. How you handle books will also influence how your child treats them. It is likely that he will treat books gently and with respect if you do the same.
TIP! Pick up a book and sit with your child as he reads. Alternatively, cuddle your child as you read so he feels connected to you and will be motivated to read himself.
Have reading materials easily available
Ensure that there is always something around for your child to read, be it a book, food recipe, clothing label or traffic signs. Chances are your child will be more inclined to pick up a book and read when he is surrounded by many of them.
TIP! You know how children always demand a new toy because parents like to bring them to the toy store as a treat? Why not take your child to the library or bookstore often and expose them to books instead? They will naturally be curious at the rows of books and ask for one to read.
Choose age-appropriate books
You can start reading to your child as young as day one but it is important not to introduce something that is beyond his reading level. For your little one around 6 to 12 months, start with specially made, extra durable books such as colourful fabric books or chunky board books. As he grows older, pick repetitive and rhyming books that are most likely to capture his interest. Between ages 2 to 3, your child will begin to enjoy books with more text and simple story lines. Remember that each child learns to read in a step-by-step process that takes time and patience so don’t intimidate your child by forcing him to read something that is beyond his capability.
TIP! Don’t be afraid of reading the same books over and over again. Young children learn from repetition so keep to the same emphasis each time you read to make the connections in your child’s brain permanent.
You don’t always have to finish reading the book in one sitting or follow the text exactly. You can ask questions while reading to your child and make comments on the pictures. For older children, you can hold a mini discussion after reading each page and get your child to explain what he just read. This will help him retain the information and develop his comprehension skills as well.
TIP! Pointing at the pictures or words when you read to your child is a technique beneficial to visual learners who will eventually recognise the repetition of a word or image in context.
Make reading fun
Your child will eventually learn reading skills in school but they are often associated with work and not pleasure. This should not be the case! Reading needs to be something that your child looks forward to doing every day, so what you can do is look for books that have been adapted into films and start from there. Some children like the film version of the book so much that it becomes a way into other stories by the same author!
TIP! In places where your child is most likely to be bored, for example in the car or at the doctor’s clinic, distract him with a book instead of an electronic gadget so that reading becomes the most appealing thing over any other activity.