How we read to our children is just as important as how frequently we read to them. Sharing picture and touch books, opens a world of opportunity to engage with your child and there are also foundational language skills that come from this time together. Reading the same animal book 5 or more times a day seems overly repetitive for us but let’s show you why it’s important and how to make the most of it.
#1 Keep it interesting
While children love reading the same book over and over because it is familiar and safe for them you can keep it interesting by asking different questions and referring to different things each time. If you are looking at a baby animal book, on one occasion talk about the sounds they make, next time their size, and then other context concepts like where they live another time. Picture books provide children with many skills including exposure to vocabulary, sound structure, the meaning of print, sustained attention and the pleasure of learning.
As your child grows and they begin to know the story well, you can encourage them to use their knowledge. Begin by letting them say the last word in the rhyming books; “The cat sat on the _____ (mat)”. Instead of telling them the cat says meow, ask them what sound the cat makes and then ask them to recall something about the story, “What did the cat sit on?”.
#2 Get them involved
Children learn most from books when they are actively involved. Everything from asking them to choose the book to making the sounds or actions are great ways to keep the time together fun and help them make connections.
Encourage them to hold the book, turn the page and point to things. Praise them for engaging and being involved as these positive reinforcements will build their confidence around books for their future.
#3 Encourage your child to talk about the book.
If you were reading a book about different types of transport, when you next go out for a drive talk about what you see and reference the book you read. These connections between the real world and books strengthens their conversational and narrative skills. A child may say “We saw a red fire truck today, it was loud.” Start asking open ended questions; “Where do you think the fire truck was going?”
#4 Evolve as they evolve
As children get older you can still go back and visit their favourite books by evolving how you interact with it. If there are illustrations, relate them to something your child knows or an experience they’ve had. Asking them to describe the characters or situation increases their understanding of social skills and body language. Talking about the characters and their dilemmas helps children understand relationships and is an excellent way for you to get to know each other or discuss difficult issues. Ask them what will happen next, how a character might be feeling or how the book makes them feel.
Encouraging children to think about what will happen next supports them in comprehending consequences and thinking through how a sequence of events may unfold.
#5 Keep it light
Don’t push children to engage, keep it fun. If your child is engaged because you are making them laugh and they don’t want to join you in making the funny noises, that’s ok, they are still engaged. Most importantly give your child plenty of time to respond. Children with language delay may take longer to respond to questions or context based connections. It’s important to be patient and allow them to answer.
For assistance with identifying what your child needs to help aid their learning, why not book in a free consultation.