It is said that children can hear you even before they are born. Right between 27 to 29 weeks of pregnancy, babies can start listening to voices outside of the womb and develop a capacity of hearing like a grown adult. However, they cannot remember the things they hear during this phase – although in most cases it’s believed they recognize their parents voice once they’re born, as they immediately calm down when close to mom and dad (especially mom).
The remembrance and understanding begin at 4 months old. Hence, this is the perfect time to start reading to your little ones. Are you one of those parents who think reading to their children is silly and just for fun? It’s so much more than that, and here are the top 3 benefits of reading to your child!
1. Improves Language Skills
The first and one of the most obvious benefits of reading to your newborn is improved language skills. No matter which language you choose to read in, if you continue reading to your little ones, children get to understand new words and improve their vocabulary. With this, they gain an idea of the language, and how it's written, spoken and used.
Children automatically pick up and understand our mother tongue without reading a single word of it. This is because that is the language they hear the most. Hearing and processing play a crucial role in helping children understand a language.
Therefore, it is recommended that you read to your children every night to improve their grammar and comprehension, which will also pay off when they start school too. If you can expose children to a second language or a third language later on, it will improve their skills across different languages as well. You can slowly develop their own reading habit by asking them to read their favorite story to you and encourage the habit of reading novels and other literature as they grow older.
2. Increased Creativity and Imagination
Another one of the benefits of reading to your child is better mental growth. Parents who have read out stories to their children since preschool has noted that it boosts their imagination power and creative thinking skills. They get introduced to different concepts of emotions and feelings and learn to anticipate situations as they grow. It also promotes out-of-the-box thinking and cognitive growth which helps in their academic life as well.
Without reading, children get obsessed with the worlds of mobile and television which do not help in any creative way. With every story and word you read out loud, children's minds are working through their process of imagination and creativity. They create their worlds where they have imagined a king and a queen that might be different from the traditional notions (as an example). Be sure to ask them how they pictured some characters and take pauses in between to help them build a picture of their own.
3. Reflexive Learning
Reading to children can be an extremely fun exercise which can also be used for some reflexive learning. This is also one of the key benefits of reading to your newborn. Some exercises to build reflexive learning are as follows:
- Just give them a bottom line / introduce characters to them / tell half of the story and let them guess what could be the next part.
- Introduce them to new words and ask them if they know the meaning or what it could mean, then explain of course.
- Include mini-games of synonyms and antonyms/translations of simple words while you read.
Reading out stories with a moral and purpose, can give added benefits of reading to your child as they have a takeaway from the story as well. Narratives that introduce them and help them understand the difference between good and bad feelings can be a great add-on for their future.
It would be a really long list if we are to mention all the benefits of reading to your child. Nevertheless, you should know that along with all these above listed benefits that help your child develop multiple skills and cognitive growth, it also helps in improving the parent-child relationship. When you have a set dedicated story time you have a daily dose of healthy communication, no matter how the day has been. These little things end up mattering a lot in the long run.
And remember, just because they can now read on their own, doesn't mean that you should stop the exercise of reading together! It can still be enriching and fun, so just go for it if you can!