In school, many teachers send home reading logs as homework. Parents read with their child for 20 minutes, and sign the log each night. Honestly, most parents sign the log without reading with their child because they are busy (I completely understand), and because they don't see the value in it. Kids read at school...isn't that enough.
Today, we are going to explore why YOU should be reading to your child EVERY day. As you can see from the title, I am going to explain 5 benefits of reading to your child daily.
1. Reading to your child gives importance to reading.
As parents, our children look up to us. They copy our behaviors and pick up our mannerisms. Let's be honest, we love it (most the time...). Our kids pick up on what is important to us, and what we enjoy doing.
Sometimes I get a wake up call from my daughter. She will set her tablet up, and start typing away on the table. When I ask what she is doing, she responds, "Working on my business. I have a lot to do."
This let's me know I have been working too much, and need to prioritize family time. The same is true of reading. If I spend a lot of time reading to my girls, they start bringing me books wanting me to read more and more.
Sure, kids love their teachers. But our society has put too much on the shoulders of teachers. Teachers do NOT have as much impact as parents. Now I know, if you are a teacher this is probably hard to hear because we like to think we have the power to change the world. I used to think that too...then I had kids and realized that MY power was in raising my children. I could get off on a soap box here, but I'm going to reign it in and explain WHY teachers do not have as much influence as we like to think.
As a parent, you are responsible for your child for 18 years. 18 years. A teacher is responsible for your child's education for 1 year. Do you see where I am going with this? Parents- 18 years
Teacher- 1 year
Now, you might be thinking, "My kids have been in daycare/school since they were 8 weeks old. There teachers have a lot more impact than that."
No, they don't. The entire time your child has been in school, they have been moving from grade to grade, class to class, teacher to teacher. So, no. No one teacher has as much impact as parents. They are being impacted by the school environment as a whole more than the individual teachers. (I will probably say more about this in a future blog explaining why we choose to homeschool.)
This should be empowering to YOU as a parent. YOU are the defining element in your child's life. Use it for good. Your children will find it more important to read if YOU find it important to read.
2. Being read to builds speech patterns, language processing skills, and vocabulary in children.
Children learn to speak from hearing us speak. They learn to understand what we are saying when they can see what is being talked about. They learn vocabulary from the words they hear used. Reading is the perfect activity for all three of these things to happen.
We are all busy. Sometimes we don't even realize that we haven't been talking to our kids or interacting with them very much. We have things to do, so we hand them a tablet or phone to keep them quiet as we work or as we have a conversation with another adult...
I'll be honest. I'm guilty of this. But you know what happens? Kids pick up on the weird speech patterns on the videos (have you heard some of the YouTube kids videos?), and they don't get practice processing language because everything is flashy and fast paced.
We have now been more strict on her tablet time (and blocking some YouTube channels). AND we have made it a point to spend more time reading and talking with her. When you are reading to your child, take the time to point out the pictures and how to tell the story. This helps children process the words you are saying and understand new words they have heard in the story.
3. Children learn through repetition. (We all do, really.)
My daughter watched Frozen 2 about 20 times (I'm not proud). I don't know what it's called, but the song the North Uldra sing to Elsa and Ana came on our Disney playlist, and suddenly she stood behind me, put her hand on my shoulder and started singing. She has watched and listened to Frozen enough that she has memorized all the songs.
The same thing happens when we read the same book to our kids. The memorize the story, the words, and the pictures. But guess what...they also start to memorize what the words look like. They will build their reading ability by having you read the same story to them over and over.
4. Reading to your child builds foundational reading skills.
There are so many skills involved in reading that we never think of: holding a book the correct way, reading left to right, going back to the left when you go down a line, etc. Honestly, these are skills that usually don't have to be taught directly to a child. Why? Because they learn these skills as we read to them.
As you read to your child, they see how you hold the book. They see how you turn the pages. You most likely point out the words to them. As your child gets older and you read more difficult books, you will end up holding following along with your finger as you read. Your child is soaking up all these skills without you having to tell them to do it. Just by having you read to them.
5. Reading to your child models pacing and expression.
This builds on some of the previous benefits. As you are reading to your child, they are paying attention to HOW you read. The notice that you aren't reading extremely fast or extremely slow. The hear how you give inflection when the sentence is a question. They hear how your voice changes when the character is mad or sad.
As your child starts to read, they will do the same things they have heard you do as you've read to them. And guess what? The ability to read with expression shows that they understand what they are reading. You are literally building comprehension as you read to your child.
I hope you see how important it is to read to your child daily. I hope you feel empowered by the opportunity you have to impact your child's education. Happy reading!