By Daddy Nickell
Your child hops off the school bus, you walk him inside, and he immediately races in front of the TV to play video games. It may be easier at times to let him enjoy his PlayStation so you can get other tasks done, but the monumental long-term benefits of reading to and with your child are critical. As National Reading Day approaches on March 3rd, we are reminded about the value of reading in developing your child’s creativity and intelligence. At the same time, reading with your children daily is a major way to build a strong connection with them. All parents can benefit from learning about why reading is integral for a child. Here is why replacing his remote control with a book can truly change your child’s life.
Understanding of language. Research has shown that the most important thing a parent can do to help their child learn and understand language is to read to them. Have them repeat certain words and phrases back as you read aloud. It helps them gain a stronger grasp of pronunciation, rhythm of speech, and builds self-confidence in their speaking voice.
Good quality one-on-one time with your child. When you read to or with your child, you are in close proximity building a bond and strengthening the friendship and love between the two of you. You touch your child more, give your child more affection, share more nonverbal communication, and you are creating memories that will stay with them into adulthood.
It opens the lines of communication. Whether it simply starts a conversation with a child that is difficult to relate to, or it allows you to tackle some of the tougher topics involved in the stages of growing up, reading together opens those lines and gets the conversation flowing. When you read together, you become a safe person to ask questions to and get advice from, and your child will look to you as a leader and example to follow.
It keeps you in touch with your children. When your kids are young, you will choose the books, but as they grow old enough, let them decide what you read to them. The stories may be simple and you may have read them a million times, but letting your child chose will allow you to stay tuned into subjects that they like, and not to mention what they are reading. You will have more to relate to and a better idea of their interests and what is going on in their life. It can help you connect with them on a different level as you learn more about what inspires them as an individual.
Reading aloud helps develop a child’s imagination. With no television to look at, and no words to struggle through, your children have nothing to do but listen and let their imagination flow. Having creativity makes for a moldable adult whom can fit in all social situations and excel in any industry he or she chooses a career in.
They will know you care. Yes, your child will learn to read earlier, have a stronger vocabulary and become a better writer if they read more, but they will also know that they are loved and cared for by an attentive parent. Their self-esteem and confidence will grow, you will have a stronger bond with them, and they will feel safe and loved. All of these outcomes will shape them to be strong and capable adults with positive outlooks and bright futures.
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 7, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddy & Co., delivery room duds and daddy gifts and apparel, and the Daddy & Co. blog where he covers topics about parenting all from a Dad’s perspective.