The Benefits of Reading to Your Child
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Many parents wonder if their child will do well in school and what they can do to help in that success. Years of research has shown that one of the best things that parents can do to ensure that their child's academic process is a positive one is to read to them. Children establish a love of reading very early on and, if you follow the current research, a love of reading may begin in the womb. Researchers have also found that reading the book word for word makes absolutely no difference; just pointing to the pictures and just speaking to your child in an enthusiastic, engaging way will be equally beneficial. The key is in the interaction.

If you have a love of reading and want your child to have the same, dedicate time each day to read together. Reading at home, coupled with the reading your child will be doing in preschool, is essential in developing a child who enjoys reading. According to the author of Dr. Spock's Baby Basics, Robert Needleman, M.D., "There's no prescription for this, the only prescription is to allow some time each day that you can sit down, connect with your child, and read together. The main thing is to allow it to occur in a way that's joyful, that conveys enjoyment to the child - from enjoyment the rest will follow."

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to reading with your child, the kind of books you pick out can be important. Books should have bright, distinct illustrations and, if you're reading word for word, have easy to understand, rhythmic language. Plan on having to read favorite books again and again so be sure to get books that you will enjoy as well. You don't want reading to your child to turn into a chore. Also bear in mind that if your child sees that you are having a good time reading, they will emulate you.

By following some or all of these tips, you will create an engaging atmosphere full of joy and excitement and foster and early foundation for literacy:

- Keep age-appropriate books in the household for all of your children

- Vary the subject matter of the books that you choose

- Keep favorite books in the car or in your bag so that you and your child always have something to do while waiting at the doctor's office, when stuck in traffic, etc.

- Ask your child's teacher for a book list that coincides with school lessons or complements those books being read at school

- When your child becomes old enough, switch roles and allow them to 'read' the story. It doesn't matter if they are reading the words on the page or making up stories to go with the illustrations!

When your child is born, s/he is a blank canvas waiting for instruction. By talking and singing to your child you will help to foster their love of language and support their communication abilities. Reading books to your children also teaches them how stories and the written word work cohesively. Your child needs a supportive, engaging environment to develop their cognitive functioning in an effective matter. Grab a book, find a comfortable chair and start your reading 'habit' today!

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