Did you know that reading with your child from a young age can make them smarter? It also promotes listening, communication, fine motor (like hand-eye coordination), gross motor (like sitting or crawling) and social emotional development.
So, what does “young age” mean exactly? You can start reading with your child when they are just a few months old. I know, it may feel silly reading to your baby when you know they can’t understand what you are saying. But the greatest amount of brain growth occurs between birth and age 5. In fact, your baby’s developing brain triples in the first year alone. Children learn to love the sound of language before they understand the words or the concept of written words on a page.
Here are some simple, age-appropriate ways you can bond with your baby while encouraging a lifelong love of reading.
If you want to work with your baby on sitting up, try reading to them while providing minimal support using your arm or chest. This way, your baby will be focused on the words that you are saying while improving their strength and control of their head, arms, and legs.
If your baby is starting to reach out while in a sitting position, then reach and pat books while supporting your child in the sitting position. Supporting them keeps them from falling over and allows them to reach for books more easily.
If your baby coos when they see you, respond with a smile and say words like “Do you want to play with me?” or “Let’s read a book.” This develops a sense of trust between you and your baby.
If your child is crying or upset while reading, give them a break. Acknowledge that they are sad or upset and ask them why they feel this way. This confirms your child’s feelings, letting them know that you are there to help them.
If you notice your child trying to turn the page of a book, prepare the page for them. This helps your child learn to turn pages on their own, giving them a greater sense of independence.
Introducing your child to books and reading to them regularly before they go to school is one of the biggest influences on a child’s early educational success. Once your child learns to read on their own, it’s still important for you to read aloud together. This can help build your child’s confidence and motivate them to improve their skills and understanding of what they are reading.
Reading has also been shown to have the following benefits:
Develops strong analytical skills
Boosts writing skills
Improves focus and concentration
What are you waiting for? Head to your local library or bookstore today to find some beginner books you can start reading with your child.
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Early Intervention and Hospital School Program Manager
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