Hello everyone, welcome to our April newsletter! As always, we provide an overview of what is happening within our childcare community. This month we will focus on encouraging a love of reading in early childhood.
Topic of the month - Encouraging a love of reading in early childhood
Books are magical portals to endless possibilities, places, worlds, and even universes. They are a way to open up a child’s mind in terms of imagination, empathy, and even linguistic abilities.
A study has shown that children who get read to by their parents starting from their first year of life contribute to increasing a child’s linguistic academic achievement. Reading exposes a child to new words they might not encounter in daily conversations, and new ideas or events they may not experience in real life.
Here are some skills boosted and harnessed through reading in early childhood:
Early literacy skills
Reading boosts a child’s reading, spelling and speaking skills. As they sound off words from the books they read, they not only familiarise themselves with the spelling of words, they also slowly understand how syntax works, and how the words, phrases and sentences convey meaning and action. It exercises their ability to process written language, get information, and eventually, explain what they have read.
Stories with dialogue and conversation gives a child templates and patterns on how to respond to certain situations in life. It gives them opportunities to examine how characters in a story respond in a given situation and get an understanding of what is acceptable or not.
As books and stories evoke various emotions in its pages, it gives children a chance to connect emotional reactions to situations and how a character manages to deal with the emotion. Children learn words to describe emotions and feelings, without having to experience it firsthand, vicariously learning and widening their emotional landscape without the additional tears, tantrums, screeches or screams.
Concentration and focus
In a world where instant gratification seems to invade almost any facet of life, reading helps a child slow down and exercise their still developing concentration and focus skill set. It is a given that a child’s attention span can be limited but reading aloud can help a child develop his/her concentration and focus skills while being entertained and challenged at the same time.
As children get exposed to stories through reading aloud, they are able to combine various data points from the story, connect it to their experiences or develop their imagination revolving the scenarios and gives them a newfound understanding of the world around them and the possibilities that could happen. From reading aloud to a child, they are able to engage in complex but basic thought processes that they will need all their lives–from getting information, formulating potential solutions, decision making, and solving problems.
Tips for Best Reading Outcomes
Here are a few tips to encourage a love of reading in your child:
Children can start learning to read from a very young age. Even before they can read themselves, they can enjoy books with colourful pictures and simple stories. Make sure to have a variety of books available for your child to choose from, and read to them regularly.
If possible, read even earlier while you’re still pregnant. Research shows that unborn babies can already hear as early as 18 weeks. Aside from getting your baby to get used to your voice, studies have shown that when a baby hears its mother reading, it promotes brain activity and development for the baby.
Make it fun.
Reading should be a fun activity, not a chore. Make reading time enjoyable by letting your child choose the book, using silly voices, or acting out the story. Make sure to praise and encourage your child for their efforts, no matter how small.
Don’t limit reading opportunities by only relying on books. Read signs, labels on everyday objects like condiments and spreads, moving banners on television programmes or even bulletins you encounter on the road. This presents great examples and opportunities to young children that reading is not limited to books and other printed materials.
Lead by example.
Children learn by example, so make sure to model good reading habits yourself. Let your child see you reading, and talk about the books you enjoy. Show them that reading is a valuable and enjoyable activity.
While they may not be able to read along with you just yet, you can use the stories in the books you read as storytelling materials, adjusted to their age and understanding, of course!
Visit the library.
Libraries are a treasure trove of books, and many offer special programs for young children. Take your child to the library regularly and let them pick out books that interest them. You can also participate in storytime or other library events to make reading a social activity.
Encouraging a love of reading in your child is one of the best gifts you can give them. Not only does it set them up for academic success, but it also helps them develop important social and emotional skills. By starting early, making reading fun, leading by example, and visiting the library, you can help your child develop a lifelong love of reading that will benefit them in countless ways. So grab a book and get started today!
0-12 month development
Why happy rather than sad music soothes newborns – new research
Author: Emese Nagy
Do you want your baby to fall asleep faster? Then play some upbeat, happy lullabies. It might sound counterintuitive but researchers have found that happy lullabies made babies’ heart rate slow down and had the best calming effect.
Read more about the research and how happy music soothes newborns into sleep here.
1-2 year development
Daily, consistent parental reading in the first year of life improves infants’ language scores
Author: Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine
Babies whose parents read to them at least one book per day starting from two weeks’ old showed that it indeed increased the babies’ early language development. Research showed that babies who are under a year have a marked improvement in their speaking and understanding skills.
Learn more about the research and how it was performed here.
2-3 year development
Nightmares and night terrors in children: How to identify the problem, and help kids sleep more peacefully
Author: Gwen Dewar, Ph.D.
Does your little one wake up in the middle of the night complaining about having nightmares? Studies have shown that 70% of young children do have nightmares. While you can’t actively prevent nightmares from occurring, you can teach your child how to deal with it once a nightmare starts.
Find proven strategies on how nightmares can be re-scripted or changed here.
3-4 year development
How spatial thinking could help children learn maths – and go on to use it in their careers
Author: Emily Farran
A child’s imagination knows no boundaries and this is a great tool to harness their spatial ability. Learning how visualise objects, rotate and manipulate it in their mind and have a better grasp of the elements in relation to the whole object has been linked to better maths performance.
Learn more about the connection between spatial thinking and maths skills here.
4-5 year development
Montessori: The world’s most influential school?
Authors: David Robson and Alessia Franco
Ever since its conception, the Montessori method has been used worldwide to provide children the freedom of self-directed learning aided by learning aids appropriate to them. More than a century after its conception and propagation worldwide, the Montessori method has since been applied in a number of ways and even adapted technological progress to further enrich learning provided to children under its instruction.
Find out more about the Montessori method, the benefits children derive from it and how it continues to shape and mould younger generations here.
Add a twist to making popcorn with kids by using organic materials and without a microwave. Mixing basic kitchen ingredients like water, baking soda, vinegar, and maybe a little food colouring, watch as corn kernels hop and puff into popcorn!
Simple Acids and Bases Science Experiment to Do with Kids
In the world of chemistry, solutions fall into a two categories, acid or base. In this little STEM experiment, children get to craft their own litmus paper using turmeric. They then get to use it to determine whether everyday chemical solutions like milk or saltwater are acid or base.
From learning about colours to mastering fine motor skills and measurement when it comes to mixing ingredients, this STEM activity covers a lot of bases! Give kids the chance to be their very own bouncy ball artisans with this bouncy ball activity.
Time for a tasty treat that’ll have kids be little chefs for an afternoon or two! With simple ingredients, have children mixing, measuring and counting, if not experimenting with, ingredients that’ll be combined to make their very own magic mug cake right in time for afternoon tea!