Why reading to your toddler is so important (and how to make it fun!)

We all know we should be reading to our children every night. Not only is it great for their language development, it’s also a really wonderful opportunity to connect with them and relax before going to bed. The Speech Pathologists from Sydney Therapy & Co. in Lane Cove explain the importance…

Putting your toddler to bed is probably the best part of your day… Ahhh sweet, sweet silence.

Well, here is a way to make it even more enjoyable!

READING. Yep, reading. Together. With your toddler.

Haven’t clicked off yet? Well read on…

Research informs us that a child’s vocabulary (i.e. words that they can understand and use) at aged two will impact their reading levels at aged 9 and 11.

What does this mean? Well the most important thing to take away here is that a child’s verbal language (i.e. talking and listening) impacts reading ability JUST AS MUCH (if not more) as their decoding skills (i.e. being able to work out that the letters combined in ‘s-p-l-a-t’ say ‘splat’).

So how do we make sure that your child has the BEST possible start to reading then?

Garner an interest in books from a young age – toddler age. And get them talking with books.

But remember: A child aged two will be very unlikely to sit and ‘read’ a book with you.

So don’t expect them to!

Children around this age are still developing the brain capacity to follow a story; even a short one is tricky. But there are things you can do to help your child view books as positive and fun and get them talking more with books.

And trying it before bed is the perfect time to work it into your routine.

  1. Sit your child on your lap so you are focussing on the same thing – If they are getting up and running away, leave reading until later. Before bed, or after they have eaten, or a time when they are most relaxed will work best.
  2. Buy interactive books – ones that you can touch, poke your fingers through, have buttons and make noises. To start off, your child might just flick through the pages at rapid speed and be done. That’s fine! Just make sure they have fun doing it. Tickle them each time they turn a page. Point to objects or items on the page and make silly noises until they laugh. They will associated books with fun and want to keep coming back to them.
  3. Find books that match your child’s toys (e.g. a book about a cow, if your child has a toy cow). Show your child the cow in the picture and then pull out their toy, make sounds and see how many pages you can turn before they lose interest. This links ‘real’ objects with 2D objects for your child.

In addition to helping their early literacy skills, creating a routine around reading together has the added bonus of establishing bonding time that your child will really look forward to.

So give it a go and good luck!

Tommie Clarke is a Speech pathologist @ Sydney Therapy & Co.

Sydney Therapy & Co. Lane Cove hold regular Toddler Language Development sessions with trained Speech pathologists. See our Blog for upcoming workshops!

Vanessa founded the Lane Cove location in July 2014. Prior to this, she has worked cross culturally over the last 8 years as a Speech Pathologist in Auckland, Tokyo and Sydney. Initially employed with the Ministry of Education in Auckland, the role included working with culturally diverse needs across a variety of speech and language disorders. In 2011, Vanessa started a private practice in Tokyo, Japan, working with expat schools, teachers and families on speech, literacy, and adolescent language difficulties.

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