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Storytime is a Great Speech Teacher!
Books and reading help develop links between pictures, words and concepts. Children learn reading routines and can show off their knowledge while engaging in a comforting routine that forms the basis for language learning and cognitive development.
In many many households, bedtime is storytime. Children love to snuggle with their parent(s) and look forward to this are daily routine. Books help children learn the names of items and actions, and understand how things work. Some questions that can help your child develop a love of reading include "Tell me, what do you want to read tonight?" By asking instead of telling, parents open the door to hearing their child's preferences spoken aloud.
Routines Help Kids Learn Language
Routines are sequences that are done in a calm and orderly manner. Our brains are primed to look for patterns and thus "re-experience" when confronted with a repeated stimulus. This "re-experience" can be called "learning". Routines capitalize on the fact that memories are easily built on enjoyable experiences in a young person's brain.
Repetition is King!
Repetition is King when it comes to learning. This is true for everyone--babies to adults. Any parent will tell you that children love to hear the good parts again and again. Reading a book helps children hear the same words and develop an understanding both details and how the parts fit into a whole. By hearing the same story repeated, children begin to replay the story in their minds. Before you know it they may soon be narrating that same experience out loud! These are attempts at prediction and narration, skills that are the foundation of critical thinking based on language.
Time to Get Your Eyes Organized!
When children are feeling relaxed, they are more receptive to information. Storytime reading can be a great way to organize the body and mind. Babies and toddlers are learning how to organize their movements- including what they do with their eyes and how to move their mouths. Prerequisite skills for communication and reading are built when parents point out what to look at and provide verbal models for speech and language.
Time to Build Talking Skills!
Reading to a child is a great example of a "direct" instructional time (a teaching moment). You and your child are often in a one-on-one situation. You should provide guidance and encouragement to keep this time low pressure, interactive and highly motivating. For example, you should help babies or toddlers touch items you name if they have yet not learned to follow this command. If they can touch but not yet point, you can help them do so. Physical guidance can be a lovely way to engage a child and keep the sense of success high without providing pressure.
Time to Show and Tell
Speech therapists often discuss whether a child needs help to communicate or can do it all by themselves. You can help your child build communication competence by letting him/her show off knowledge to you during reading. Take time to listen to what they have to say about a book without a barrage of "who, what, where and when" questions. Children who are expressing their own thoughts are more apt to attempt to complex sentences.
The Take Away:
Reading provides an ideal time to learn and use language in a relaxed yet structured setting. Parents should keep it low pressure and encourage their child to do the talking!