What’s the Big Deal About Reading?!Reading stimulates and develops children’s imaginations and even their IQ. Reading kindles interest, encourages curiosity, and exposes us to new worlds and experiences. Reading opens the world of possibilities to us, whether we are a 2 year old being read to, a mother snatching a few moments of book time while kids nap, or grandparents with time to luxuriate in words, thoughts, and pages.How much is too much reading to kids? Ask yourself this question – how many hours a day does your child watch TV?Reading, re-reading, and still more re-reading the same stories over and over to toddlers and preschoolers is, let’s face it, boring to adults. But your child is learning by leaps and bounds as you repeat the familiar words to Goodnight Moon, or Thomas the Train stories, or Pooh or Peter Rabbit, the list goes on and on. You aren’t reading to just entertain yourself, or even your child. You are reading to introduce phonics, grammar, words, thoughts, and sentence structure, let alone to open the world with all its possibilities and creativity to your child.
To expand on the reading theme, try acting some of the books out – use family members, pets, stuffed animals, puppets, whatever comes to mind! Be creative to stimulate that characteristic in your child. Thomas the Train stories are easy to act out with a few train sets… Dora the Explorer dolls can act out stories… most stories in books for very young children are character-dense so easily acted out, but as they grow they can put on plays based on Little House on the Prairie books, or American Girl, for example.
There is no need to restrict our children’s learning to a classroom environment. While driving in the car, you can work on colors, shapes, geography, you name it. The grocery store is another learning-rich environment, not just a place to try desperately to maintain our cool while we keep things out of our young children’s reach. With older kids you can explore different cultures, work on math with serving sizes, compare nutritional labels.
Many kids really enjoy nature books such as the Audubon series and pocket guides on birds, butterflies and moths, bugs, plants, etc. Teach them how to explore their world!
If you approach life with a fun, “this is interesting, let’s find out more” attitude, rather than a dreary attitude of “everything is either entertainment or work”, your children will pick this up. You will find that it can help turn even resistant learners into curious, inquisitive people with open minds and positive attitudes. If learning (even schoolwork) is seen as an interesting opportunity, it is much more likely to become a habit that can last a lifetime.