By Jak Burke,
Reading with our infant is one of the most pleasurable things to do. Whether it be first thing in the morning when our baby pulls out her favorite educational books or just before bedtime when our little one opts for a comforting tale, the closeness of reading together is magical.
But reading together is more than just magical – it’s actually a highly significant marker of your child’s academic potential. Did you know that reading aloud for just 15-minutes a day is the single most important thing you can do to prepare your child for Kindergarten? One in three children arrive in Kindergarten without the skills necessary for lifetime learning. Reading produces literacy skills such as word recognition, phonics, vocabulary, story-telling, and comprehension. According to the Reading Foundation your child will react to books in these age-appropriate ways:
What Your Baby Will do
A newborn will typically react to voices noises and music. They will enjoy the tone and beat of your voice as you read aloud. They will respond by cooing, gurgling or smiling. A newborn will learn to bond with you and look forward to the closeness, associating reading with pleasure and intimacy.
A 6-10 month old will typically try to grab the book and put it in their mouth. They will pat and claw at the pictures. They will play with sounds by babbling. They will wave their arms and feet to show excitement. They will turn the pages of sturdy books. They will begin to enjoy having their favorite books repeated.
What Your Toddler Will do
Your toddler (12-18m) will begin to say familiar words. They will answer “where is” questions by pointing. They will react to facial expressions, noises and tone.
0-3 years the golden years
Your infant’s brain is literally building trillions of connections the fastest it will ever grow. Babies are born with around 100 billion neurons. By age 3 there will be 1,000 trillion connections between them. The Word Gap. Some children will hear 30 million fewer words than their peers before the age of 4. Those not reading proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of school.
According to Read to Your Baby there are 10 benefits to reading to an infant:
- Promotes listening skills
- Increases the number of vocabulary or words your baby will hear
- Develops attention span and memory
- Helps babies learn uncommon words
- Helps babies understand the meanings of words
- Helps babies learn concepts about print
- Promotes bonding and calmness for both baby and parent
- Stimulates the imagination and all the senses
- Instills a love of books and of learning
- Helps infants to learn how to get information from illustrations
So there you have it. That rush home from work to read your child a book at night is a long-term investment – and it feels wonderful too.