If there’s one thing children look forward to during their bedtime routine, it’s story time! Reading with your children before bed is not only a calming and soothing part of a child’s nightly routine; it’s also an essential bonding activity for parents and children. Reading with kids can benefit them in numerous ways.
Within the pages of a book, we can escape from reality and become immersed in the lives of the characters. Through reading, we can learn about a new world entirely different from our own. When we make reading with kids a regular part of the routine, our children learn language basics like new sounds and vocabulary. Additionally their imaginations and curiosities are sparked as their cognitive, social and emotional skills develop.
Each parent has his or her own unique style and method of reading with kids. As you begin your story time routine, be sure to keep the following things in mind in order to make the most of this activity for your child’s development.
Pay close attention to your child’s cues
Not every story is interesting to kids. There may be stories that bore them, and there are also stories that excite them no matter how many times they’ve heard them. When reading with your little one, it’s important that you tune into your child’s cues. Get a sense of whether or not young children are engaged in a story by closely observing if they are paying more attention to the flow of the story or the images, and if they understand the vocabulary and words being used.
If you notice that your child appears disinterested, you can help him or her become more engaged by encouraging participation in the reading process. You don’t always have to be the one instructing or explaining. You can ask young children “why” questions that get them thinking. For instance, you may ask, “Why do you think the mother bear left the house?” Allow your child’s imagination to flourish by asking them relevant questions. Otherwise, you may offer to read a different story or book.
You don’t have to read every word on the page
It’s okay not to read each story verbatim, especially when you’re still working on helping little ones expand their vocabulary. Feel free to choose simpler terms and adapt the story in a way that makes it easier for young kids to understand. The story may be wonderful, fun, and exciting, but young kids may not appreciate the full scope of a story if the language is beyond their comprehension level.It’s perfectly okay to skip some text, change some words, and paraphrase. You can even cite examples and use the illustrations and images in the book to make it easier for young kids to imagine and picture the plot in their heads.
When children become bored or seem disengaged during your reading activity, one trick you can try is asking thought-provoking questions as you navigate the story together. This will help to keep the activity more fun, interactive, and educational. Ask your child to predict what’s going to happen next. Ask the “whys”, “hows” and “whats”. For instance, you may ask your little one, “How do you think the little bear will be able to make it back home from the forest?” or “What do you think will happen if the fox sneaks inside the house while the mother bear is gone?”
By asking these types of questions, you are not only engaging your child in the story. You are also opening up more opportunities to spark and stimulate their imagination.
Use a different voice for each character
Another trick that can make reading with kids more fun and exciting is to change your voice when reading the lines of different characters in the story. For example, when you’re reading the lines of a shy and timid cat, your voice can be a little softer. Whereas if you’re portraying the character of a strong mother bear, you can speak in a louder and fuller voice.
By using different voices, kids will find it easier to distinguish the characters from one another, which may help them understand the story better.
Dedicating adequate time for reading with your kids can benefit them in several ways. Incorporating story time in your child’s nightly routine helps children develop their language skills and also improves their cognitive, emotional and social skills. Not to mention, reading together is also fun! Be sure to adopt these helpful tips during your next storytelling and reading session.
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