Being a parent is hard. It is a stage where you get all confused about what would be the best for your kids, what value-based activities and educational base you should provide them with. How do we prepare our children to strive in the future? Researcher Keisha Siriboe shares on this, “If we are being honest with ourselves, the education that we are preparing children for, is not the education we received. So, we’re all learning at the same time.” The needs went straight from reading, writing and arithmetic to creative skills, critical thinking, character traits and interpersonal skills and we don’t know what the future has in store.
But there is this outstanding, researched based, scientifically proven resource that works best as a foundation for every skill set that is and will be required and one of the main thoughts are on the parent-child reading aloud. Performing this activity in the foundational years of a child can do wonders for them. Let’s have a look at why it is important to read aloud to your kids.
Develops language skills
Kids acquire language primarily through listening. They notice the movements of your lips, the way you roll your tongue when you pronounce certain words and try to imitate it. They try to emulate your actions and produce sounds which are similar to what they hear. During shared book readings, children learn to recognize letters and realize that the print represents the spoken word. Reading aloud to your kids makes them exposed to new words in new contexts and helps them explore the communicative possibilities of the language.
Healthy brain development
Usually with children, the herculean task that parents struggle with is lack of attention. Just when we think they’re settled with the ball, they’ll be going for the doll or car or any other thing they find interesting. It is hard for us to get them to focus or attend to one particular thing. With technological advancements, the one thing that is more accessible to kids is screen time. Parents tend to provide their kids with electronic devices either in time of feeding or because of their busy schedule.
Children glued to mobile and laptop screens are engaging in a sedentary activity that requires very little energy both physically and mentally. On the other hand, while reading to them, what happens is, the events unfold to them in a slower pace unlike watching television. This requires the child to engage in their own imaginary world and move with the characters all along the story. This helps in improving concentration and attention span.
Promotes bonding with the reader
Reading aloud to kids establishes a strong, intensive relationship with the reader. Rebecca Bellingham, an instructor in the Literacy Specialist Programme at the Columbia University Teachers College who has over twenty years of teaching experience says, “When parents or teachers read aloud, we do the decoding work.” Just like how a reader connects to an author of the literary work, the heeder (here, kids) connects with the person who’s actually helping them to comprehend or decode the story.
Widens imagination and creative thinking
As mentioned above, when parents or teachers read aloud to kids, it is them who deal with the print. It is them who deal with tricky words and tough vocabulary while we free kids to think. This is when they use all their brain energy to imagine the story and learn new information. They have access to imagine the plot like they wish to. Reading aloud has a tremendous impact on the kid’s later on reading life because they’d know that when you read, the world inside the book needs to come alive.
Safe way of exploring strong emotions
“Reading aloud gives kids a special kind of access to the transformative power of the story and the experience of what real reading is all about, which is to deeply understand, to think, to learn and discuss big ideas about the world, about the lives of others and about ourselves,” Billingham quotes. Imagine a kid reading Wonder by R. J. Palacio, where the protagonist Auggie is born with a rare facial difference. Reading through this, the kid learns to be empathetic and realizes that this difference should not be considered as deformity. Reading different books allows kids to explore different emotions, get a better understanding of how to express them and makes sure that they’ll always be heard.
The power of reading aloud to your kid is magical. Preparing your child for the outside world would seem tough until you introduce them to it. The introduction should start from the place the child feels the safest – “Home”. And what better way to introduce them to the world than a book.