What is the main thing we want for our children?
Most parents want their children to be happy, smart and kind. When we think about bright and smart children, often the focus is on schools and teachers, and extracurricular activities to build education and character. This is true to a point, however I am a firm believer in kids being allowed to be kids, and that playing, creativity, curiosity and imagination are essential in helping them to really reach their brightest potential.
An amazing way to boost your children’s learning potential and more importantly creativity and imaginative play, is to introduce books to them as early as possible, and to create time to read as part of everyday family life.
In this bustling digital world, it is more important than ever to create moments to slow down and enjoy - and a book is a great way to do that. Plus, there is nothing better than the feel and smell of a new book and the joy and wonder of turning the page to see what happens next. A joy that swiping or tapping simply cannot compete with.
So we’ve heard that reading to young children is a good thing - but do you know the benefits your toddler or preschool-age child can get directly from books and reading?
Here are the many wonderful things that books can bring to preschool children and their families.
1. A stronger bond with you.
As children get older they begin to pull away from their parents, so embrace snuggle time as much as you can. Reading a book after a bath and before bed, is precious quiet time that you can enjoy, which will strengthen your bond and become a nurturing activity that you both cherish. How often do we actually sit with our kids and give them our full attention? When you read to them, you are there for them. And they remember it.
2. Learning Excellence.
One of the major benefits of reading to toddlers and preschoolers is a heightened ability and desire for learning. Studies show that students, who were read to regularly before preschool age, are more likely to do well in all aspects of formal education. After all, it all begins with words.
3. How to read a book.
It is funny but we take for granted that children just know instinctively that you read text from left to right, or how to distinguish between words, colours and images. But this isn’t the case, so essential reading skills and the comprehension of words and images like these are among the many benefits of early reading.
4. Basic speech skills.
As toddlers, they are learning critical language and enunciation skills at a rapid pace. By listening to you read, your child is identifying and understanding the basic sounds that form language. Often they will “read” the book back to you making happy sounds and squeals, which is a very important pre-literacy activity.
5. Valuable communication skills.
Through seeing interactions with the characters in the books you read, a child will learn and experience different situations and emotions and how to relate to others in a healthy way. This develops communication skills, and builds on important traits such as empathy and compassion.
6. Logical thinking.
Reading to preschool children improves their ability to understand basic life concepts such as applying logic, identifying cause and effect, and knowing when to use good judgment. They will begin to match scenarios from their books into real life situations, and therefore be more equipped to make better decisions.
7. Facing new experiences.
Books are a great way of approaching a subject or milestone that a child is concerned or worried about, such as starting kindy, a long plane ride or a new sibling arriving. Reading a story that addresses their worry, is a great way to help ease their anxiety and also to show them they are not alone, and that being worried or anxious is normal.
8. Enhanced concentration.
When you first start story time, toddlers may wiggle and seem distracted by anything other than the book, but through persistence and repetition is where they will learn to be calm, and pay attention at story time. Understanding of when it is appropriate to sit quietly and follow instructions brings self-discipline, a longer attention span, and improved memory, all of which are vital for school.
Children love understanding things. They are curious.
Early reading for toddlers helps them experience books as something exciting, fascinating and interesting, rather than trying to introduce at a later date, when video games and television are likely to seem preferable.
I love picture books - the multiple opportunities they provide and the impact they have on a young mind in preparing them for life, is invaluable. Each book I illustrate is crafted with love, and I am incredibly proud to be able to move and inspire children and families with my art.