Think your baby is too young to reap the benefits of reading? We urge you to think again. Research shows that indeed, while a new infant may not understand exactly what you are saying, reading/being read to from a young age affects all facets of development; from health and social skills to cognition. Hearing words associated with pictures or objects starts the process of decoding and understanding speech from the day a child is born. It is important, however, to tailor reading styles and books to each specific age group. We discuss here how to read at each developmental stage.
HOW TO READ AT EACH AGE GROUP:
As soon as your baby is born you can start reading to them. It is recommended that you start by holding them close and reading to them in a melodic tune. Singing or speaking in varying and melodic tones has been shown to keep babies far more engaged and to have soothing effects on their nervous system.
Since your baby's visual system is still developing, at this stage they can not see or distinguish between colors well (many consider them to be color blind). Therefore, it is recommended that you find HIGH CONTRAST images to engage them.
By 3-6 months of age, your infant will begin to appreciate looking at mirrors and pictures of faces, shapes and hues. Your baby may start to make sounds at this age and reach out to touch or grasp the pictures. Pick books with fascinating, colorful pictures and surfaces.
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A 1985 survey by a commission of The U.S Department of Education surveyed 10,000 research finding and came to the conclusion that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for the eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
6 to 24 months:
The purpose of reading to the baby at this stage is to familiarize your child to speech and to help them develop their speech and decoding abilities. Point to the pictures and speak out the name of the objects in the picture. Infants develop the ability to recognize objects and also to point to them as well before they develop speaking abilities. At this age, children begin to interact with books themselves, and since babies are most engaged by noise, books that make crinkle or rattle noises are a must have.
The one above is expensive, but will stay with your child for years to come and works on developing good habits, fine motor skills and developing their love of reading among many other skills.
2 to 4 years old:
At this age your child can understand books with more complex ideas and will be fine tuning their motor skills. The Interactive Early Reader has many activities that can last your child around 6 years. The Interactive Bath Time Book can be used to teach your kids the importance of bath time and potty training.
In addition we recommend the Dress Up Bear Activity Booklet.
At this stage your baby may be able to read to his or herself. You want to start focusing on the content of the books. Child psychologists often recommend having books that develop emotional intelligence by teaching children how to communicate their feelings. The Emotions Pack is designed for this specifically.
Here are some pointers for you to follow:
- Use picture cards and word books with bright colors and good clear pictures.
- While reading, point out the objects in the picture and name them so that the child learns to relate a name with the picture. Encourage your child to point out the objects in the picture or help the child to interact with the book by helping them turn the pages. At young ages it may be a good idea to sign the words using Sign Language.
- Do not read out continuous sentences or full pages of the book to your child.
- Introduce more books as your child develops their vocabulary.
The process of reading to your child involves the acts of reading, pointing and allowing your child to interact with the book. To impart the full effects of the learning process make sure that your baby is well fed and has a fresh diaper. Chose a time when you do not have chores to do. Turn off the television or any other devices that may interfere with your session. Place your baby in your lap or close to your body while reading. This will make bonding experience much better. In fact, the whole family: parents, Grandparents and siblings can partake in this activity.
Research has shown that children who enter Kindergarten from a low reading environment have a cognizant vocabulary of about 3000 words, where as toddlers who enter kindergarten from a high learning environment have a cognizant vocabulary of approximately 20,000 words. This difference in the vocabulary level spans a period of 5 – 10 years of learning process.