15 Minutes a Day??

Experts say that you’re supposed to read to your child for fifteen minutes a day. I am ashamed to say that we rarely meet that in our house. As hard as I try, we always run over the limit, often by an hour or more. But—

What’s that? You mean the fifteen minutes is a minimum? Oh. I see. Um, well, since I’m clearly an idiot on the subject, this might be a fine time to introduce our very first Captain Dad guest blogger to tell you all about December being “Read a New Blog Month.”

What? Oh, I’m sorry. “Read a New Book Month.” Please welcome Emily Patterson who actually knows about these things.

The Benefits of Reading Are Literally Grand

Written by Emily Patterson on behalf of Primrose Schools, educational day care that enables children to flourish and develop as well-rounded individuals.

One of the key predictors of a successful student is the amount of time spent as a child experiencing the cadence and rhythm of the spoken language while attending to the written word. For many decades educational, linguistic and brain development research has been devoted to studies focusing on reading aloud to children. Parents may wonder when to begin this most important aspect of the child’s learning development.

Even in utero, the developing brain detects movement and sound made by the mother. When a person is reading silently, there is a constant energy that is apparent within the body and the mind, which may be transferred to the baby. Consider reading aloud to the developing fetus any type of material, i.e., grocery lists, the newspaper, magazine articles or a good book. What matters is that there is talk that is introducing the certain method of communication that is reading. Using books on tape can be a wonderful technique to utilize even at this stage.

An infant can focus on pictures and text. Oral descriptions using color words and counting can be started at any time. A parent may be surprised and delighted after many repetitions how a four month old can point out a familiar character. Board books are especially good from infancy to three years of age where the child is experimenting with holding and caring for books. The use of technology can also be employed to help in reading skills. Numerous books can be found on tape or CD to play to a child at bedtime.

It is important to read aloud to reinforce the skills that are being introduced when a child begins school. Making the time to do this is vital in raising an active reader. Robert Needlman, M.D., author of Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics, suggests that one of the most important things about nurturing a reader is to read with a child from a very early age. “There’s no prescription for this, the only prescription is to allow some time each day that you can sit down, connect with your child, and read together. The main thing is to allow it to occur in a way that’s joyful, that conveys enjoyment to the child – from enjoyment the rest will follow.”

You will foster an appreciation of literature when your child sees that you take pleasure from reading a book. Choosing the right books are a key factor in nurturing this very special time together. Ask any librarian or bookstore clerk for those exceptional books and you will discover a wealth of lists ranging from Caldecott Medal Winners to Newberry Winners. Consider adding some of these to the household library. These books have been carefully chosen because of the illustrations and the simple, rhythmic language as well as a moving story line that keeps the child engaged in reading. Make sure to read a book that you enjoy reading aloud as it will most likely produce an animation and enthusiasm that is always appreciated by children. Then too, the favored book is the one that is read over and over again. It is great fun to allow your child to “read” the book. It will probably be all wrong or made up, but in the development of a reader, it is simply a stage called “creative reading” that progresses into true reading ability. Soon they will be “getting it” and the pure joy of reading will have been achieved.

Here are some tips to help families create a literacy rich environment:

• Choose age appropriate books on a variety of subjects.
• From infancy, read daily encouraging participation in the story.
• Oral stories from parents, singing, chants, and nursery rhymes are wonderful ways to encourage literacy.
• Keep a book bag handy filled with favorite books for waiting periods and long trips.
• Ask the teacher for a list of books that relate to what is happening at school. Read them with your child to encourage connections between school and home.
• Allow older children to read aloud to younger children, even if there are mistakes made or the story is not exactly what is on the page. Both children will benefit from this interaction.

A child’s intellectual development is enhanced in a significantly proportional way when reading is made a continual daily exercise in the home. Every child has a built in motivation to please parents, to communicate and to acquire language. It is the parents’ job to encourage that intrinsic desire by supplying the necessary tools to enhance the capacity of the child’s literacy skills. So, find a good book, settle in and read with your child.

One thought on “15 Minutes a Day??

  1. I’m finding myself more and more challenged when it comes to reading to my 2yo twins. One of them has memorized nearly all the books we have. She will sit on the floor with a book open on her lap and repeat the story verbatim from memory. It’s tough to keep up with a human hard drive in the house :)

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