But every ‘expert’ under the sun says how important it is to read to our kids! No, you read the title right… it said ‘STOP’.
I have your attention now Huh?!
Let me explain.
I do not mean stop reading all together. I do suggest you stop reading like an adult and try and see a book through the eyes of your child.
Reading IS really important for young children. It develops early language, comprehension, bonding between parent and child and more. But as any parent of a baby or toddler will tell you, sitting down and attempting to ‘read’ a book together is like telling a fly to sit still while you swat it… IT JUST AIN’T GOING TO HAPPEN!
This is why I say ‘stop’ trying for something that is unachievable. This is my life-line to those parents of the squirmy baby and/or toddler. The ‘reading’ that experts are talking about when they sprout how important it is, is not sitting down and reading Alice in Wonderland cover to cover. But rather sharing and exploring a book with your baby, introducing them to what a book is and what you do with it.
A toddler aged between 1-2 years is usually only capable of 3-4 minutes of reading time and this will not necessarily be 3-4 minutes of your toddler sitting still, looking at the pages, rather they will look, climb off the couch and play with your shoe, look again, try and close the book, play with your shoe again, look again… does this sound familiar?
I bet it does and it is perfectly normal. Even when your toddler appears to be totally distracted they are still taking in the ‘learning’ you are modelling. They can see you open a book, turn pages, that there are pictures and that things in these pictures can have a name/label. By observing you reading they learn that a book is read from left to right and how to distinguish if they have it up the right way or not. Babies and toddlers are not born with any of this knowledge or understanding. It is all learnt through observation during the act of you ‘reading’ out loud and letting them explore books with you.
So the next time you sit down to ‘read’ to your child and catch yourself sighing as they scuttle around the room engaging with everything BUT the book in your hand, give yourself a break.
And remember to keep on going… they may not take in the story tonight or this week but they will be observing how you engage with the book and this is vital learning for when they are ready to sit down and take in the wonder of a great story.
Your Hands-On Helper,
Founder Hands-On Heads