During my years as a primary school teacher and an early childhood educator, parents have asked me many questions, but the one question they asked most often is: “How can I help my child do well in school?”
My answer to that question was always the same: Read to your children; make books a part of your child’s everyday life.
Reading to your child is the most powerful tool you have to help them maximize their potential.
Albert Einstein was asked how to create intelligent children.
His response was: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”
Reading aloud creates an atmosphere full of words and language. Listening to stories reinforces all the fundamentals of language, starting with the sounds that make up the words and building to manipulating words to express your thoughts.
When you read with small children, stop and listen. They will soon begin to babble with you. This is not a sign of disinterest but a basic start to communication.
Older children learn how other people communicate through the interactions of the characters in the stories that they read. Books create a desire to learn new words, to learn new thoughts, to learn how to express and communicate one’s own ideas and thoughts.
Books offer children a safe place to explore new concepts and ideas. Through the situations the story characters find themselves in, their reactions and the outcomes of their behaviors can give a child a chance to experience cause and effect.
A good example of this is the first day of school, reading a story about another child’s experience can help prepare a child for what they might experience and help ease some of their uncertainties.
Reading together develops a relationship between you and your child in a way that nothing else can. Snuggling with a book helps you to put aside the world for a little while.
It really doesn’t matter what you read; it is the bond that you are developing that is important.
Play is defined as an activity that is done for the pure joy of doing it. It is a self motivated activity that is open-ended and voluntary. What a great description of reading! What a wonderful gift to give our children and ourselves.
Dawn Wall is an Early Childhood Educator. She teaches at Kid Care Day Care and is the Children First Co-ordinator.