We all know that children love bedtime stories and seem to have an insatiable appetite for them. Did you know that reading bedtime stories can actually help your child develop more than just a close bond with you? The benefits of reading to your child at bedtime are many, and now, there’s also research to show that it can boost your child’s brain development and early learning.
In today’s hectic world it can seem that there just isn’t enough time in the day to add another step to our children’s bedtime routine. If we make reading part of the bedtime routine – just like brushing teeth – your child will be richer for it and reading will be a pleasurable experience that you won’t need to encourage.
Here we explore just a few reasons why children need bedtime stories.
Creates closer parental bonds
Young children love spending time with their parents or loved ones. When you read to your child before bed, you are providing them with cosy one-on-one time where they feel like the centre of your world, immersed in the stories that you are sharing with them. You have each other’s undivided attention, which helps strengthen the relationship and, almost as importantly, associates reading with emotional warmth and fun.
While talking with your child builds their vocabulary, regularly reading to them accelerates the expansion of their vocabulary. This is because books introduce new and unfamiliar things to your child that they might not otherwise be exposed to during daily conversation. Don’t shy away from books with long or difficult words in them, as this exposes your child to the richness of language.
Develops comprehension and encourages a love of reading
Reading to your child at bedtime, from as young as just a few months old, will encourage a love of reading and assist with reading preparedness and comprehension. It helps them develop logic skills, learn about components of a story and sequence events. It also provides your child with the ability to predict what will happen next and how to recall details of the story.
Reading text heavy, chapter books to older children without pictures, helps them to develop imagination as they convert what they are hearing into pictures in their mind. When you read about a description of a thing, person or scene, they imagine what that thing, person or scene would look like. Children can also make sense of real life situations through stories; a skill that is important throughout your child’s education and beyond.
Creates a routine
Science has shown us that children benefit from a structured routine. Bedtime routines can often be hectic as children have a bath, brush their teeth, pack away toys, and so on. Adding a story to the bedtime routine provides an opportunity for your child to spend some close time with you and relax as they listen to the story. It also helps with the transition to sleep.
A study led by Dr John S Hutton of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre found that brain activation in children aged three to five differed according to how much the children had been read to at home. The left hemisphere of the brain associated with multisensory integration, integrating sound, and then visual stimulation, was significantly more active in children whose parents reported more reading and more books in the home.
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