As a parent, you know the powerful effects of reading to your little one – his mind gets stimulated, and many new neural connections are made in his brain.
Reading aloud to your child is one activity that is powerful enough to greatly enhance brain development. Your young child would develop language and listening skills early, and also learn to concentrate, organise his ideas and pick up some prediction skills.
This process of reading to your kid is best not outsourced. That is because your child thinks you are the most important person in the world, and looks up to you as his most esteemed role model.
And if you show how enthusiastic you are to read to him, you would also deepen your child’s interest in learning to read, as research findings point out.
Read between 10 to 30 minutes
There are varied views on how long you should read to your child.
Some recommend 30 minutes of reading time. A study in England showed that having one-to-one reading sessions every day can improve your child’s reading age by two years.
From data taken from the U.S. Department of Education, reading to your child for 30 minutes from infancy every day would mean that he has been fed roughly 900 hours of brain food by the time he is five years old!
Another school of thought is that just 10 minutes of reading is enough to make a difference in language development. Some researchers found that 10 minutes of reading can significantly increase a little one’s exposure to words.
The short 10 minutes is also encouraging for busy parents who sometimes find it hard to find the time to sit down and read to their child. In fact, as part of encouraging parents to read to their child, the National Adult Literacy Agency in the United States encourages all children to be read to for 10 minutes a day.
How long your child should be read to probably depends on your child’s age, attention span and initial attitude towards reading. If your child is very young or is someone who would rather watch the television or play the iPad, it would do you well to start off by reading him a short story for just 10 minutes.
As is emphasised by paediatricians, parents should not be reading a long story to a young child and expect him to listen attentively.
However, as your child gets older or as his interest in reading grows, you can progressively stretch the reading time to 30 minutes. Of course, you would not have to read for the whole 30 minutes and hurt your throat! Engage him instead by giving him an opportunity to read as well, ask him questions and encourage him to share his thoughts and feelings about the story.
Read to him everyday
There is a unanimous voice among researchers that calls for you to read to your kids as frequently as you can.
A study conducted by the National Centre for Education Statistics found that children who were read to at least three times a week were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading than children who were read to less than three times a week.
In fact, experts and paediatricians recommend that you read to your child every day. By making reading a part of your everyday routine, reading becomes a habit, and your child would naturally look upon reading as part of life. Not only would his language development be faster, broader and deeper, he would also be more likely to make reading a lifelong habit.
As you read to your little one every day, be it for 10 minutes or 30 minutes, remember to make it fun for him – dramatise a little, point out details in the illustration, crack a few jokes – and the reading experience would be one both of you would look forward to each day.
How often do you read to your child? Share with us in the comments.