Reading to young children is important as it stimulates brain development, exposes them to language and communication, piques imagination and allows them to gain more knowledge about the world.
Additionally, reading to them at an early age supports their speech and language development too, as they are immersed in a variety of words, sounds and sentences. These benefits contribute greatly to a child’s literacy skills and milestones.
Commonly, young children are unable to stay focused during the early reading stage. Hence, parents may find it difficult to grab and maintain their attention when reading to them.
Here are some tips to make reading time a fun and engaging session!
7 ways parents can keep children engaged and interested when reading to them
#1: Let your child choose the books
Often, children tend to “judge a book by its cover”. Books that are visually more appealing to them tend to be favoured over others. Not sure which books to read to them? Pick out a few age-appropriate books and let your child choose which ones he is interested in.
Unable to focus and sit through reading time? Start with picture books or books with only one or a few words, then gradually introduce them to more words over time.
#2: Create a reading routine
Unwind with a bedtime story by cosying up with their favourite toys and have your child sit on your lap as you read to him/her. Do be mindful about reading with appropriate lighting as healthy reading habits are important for good eye health.
Prefer reading during the day? Dedicate time for books, grab some cushions and read to your child.
#3: Make reading fun and creative
Time to unlock your imagination, parents! Use props to bring the story to life and invite your little ones to be part of the fun reading time.
Get your child to pick out toys or household items that relate to the book they are being read. Involving children gives them a boost of excitement and empowerment, keeping them more engaged when read to.
#4: Dramatise characters from stories
Switch on your Big Bad Wolf voice or or do a rendition of The Gruffalo! Dramatising storybook characters captures a young listener’s attention as your child is attracted to the varying tones and voices used.
Stretch this activity further by having your child be the voice of another character, and your little one will start to appreciate the interaction when read to.
#5: Ask children questions and discuss about the story
Pause at appropriate times when reading and inject questions and discussions to make it more interactive.
For preschoolers starting to familiarise themselves with phonics, it could be questions like – “Where is the dog?” or “Point to the words that start with /f/?”.
For kindergarten-aged children, ask them questions that evoke their critical thinking skills.
#6: Read anything, not just books
Words are everywhere - start reading to your child wherever you are.
At a bakery, point to food signages and read aloud the different names of fresh bakes. Read “pull” or “push” coupled with the respective action when opening or closing labelled doors. At a mall, say and spell out the name of the shopping centre.
Beyond reading to them, children are familiarised with the idea that words are part of our lives, while providing information too. This piques their curiosity and thirst for knowledge; keeping them engaged and alert when you read to them.
#7: Understand your child and manage your expectations
Everyone is unique, so parents need to remember that all of us are developing on our timeline, just like our children.
At this point, perhaps your child may seem disinterested during reading time, or unable to stay focused. Take heart that with consistency and perhaps a change of methods, children will eventually learn to be more focused on their tasks and enjoy reading in time to come.
Embrace the joys of early reading through a dedicated childcare curriculum in Singapore
Nurturing a strong literacy foundation can be strengthened by a marriage between a robust childcare programme tailored for preschoolers and guidance from experienced educators.
Little Footprints Preschool’s literacy focus is integrated into its childcare curriculum through specialised programmes such as the Librarian’s Code. It consists of two sub programmes: Reader to Leader and Bond ‘thru’ Reading (Home-School Partnership Reading Programme). These early reading programmes are specially designed to raise confident readers, writers and storytellers by fostering enjoyment in quality children’s literature brought to life in an engaging and dynamic style.
Some of the literacy adventures children from playgroup onwards partake in include: Parent-child activities, journalling tasks, roleplaying, discussions on story plots and complex storylines and more.
Find out how Little Footprints Preschool’s curriculum can help to build a strong foundation of language and literacy skills along with other aspects of an early learner’s development. Book a centre tour to visit your nearest childcare centre in Singapore.
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