Reading to Jacob
Story Time. We love it. Whether it is story time at home, in a library, at a park or in the middle of the mall, story time is great. Before Jacob was born, I was in my local library and saw a notice in the events calendar about a class called “Babygarten”. It said there would be songs, rhymes and activities to help babies with language acquisition and preliteracy skills. OK, sold. I will be doing that, I thought.
After I had Jacob, I missed the registration for the first session. Highly disappointed, I signed up for the waiting list, and... waited. This is long before I began any of the research that has filled the pages of this blog today. Had I known then what I know now, we could have been going to other story times all along. Not that I wasn't reading to him, but I could have used some of those great techniques a little earlier.
When Jacob was 5 months, we made it into Babygarten. I was so excited about the first 'class'. As it was winter, and too cold for the park, our outings had been limited to visits to the grocery story and my mother's house. I was ready for some social interaction!!
My first experience with Babygarten made me fall in love with story time. It was wonderful and I talked about it all week until we went back. When we first arrived, I noticed mats set out in a big circle. We were to get name tags for our babies (of course the mommies/daddies/caregivers wore them), pick up our song and rhyme sheets, and grab our spots around the circle. My heart was pounding, and it makes me laugh now to think back at how excited I was about this. Like a little kid, really. Jacob looked all around the room with his little wide-eyed gaze, seemingly interested in the other babies there.
The storyteller came to the front of the room and introduced herself. She talked about what Babyarten is and about the importance of reading to your child. I learned that your babies do not have to sit still and in your lap to benefit from being read to. That simply hearing the words, sounds and inflection is beneficial. That implementing songs, instruments, puppets and so forth will engage the child and enhance the story time experience. That playtime and story time can become one. Story times at home were never the same after that.
We went around the room and introduced ourselves and our little ones, then time for a welcome song. The songs and rhymes were designed for the caregiver to interact with the child, so we bounced our babies on our legs when we sang about horsies, we lifted them up high and spun around and dropped low during the rhyme about being an airplane, you get the idea. Jingle bells rattles were passed out for everyone to shake along to some of the rhymes, and books were passed out (all the same one) so that we could all read to the babies in unison. Some of the kids sat in laps, some crawled/walked around, others went over to another kid/mom and tried to play, and some got fussy. I noticed that one of the moms seemed embarrassed that her daughter wouldn't sit and instead rolled around in the middle of the carpet. The storyteller laughed and said, “We don't expect that the babies will sit still or be quiet, it's perfectly fine”. That was nice to hear, because the whole week before my first Babygarten class I was worried how Jacob would act. Before I knew it, story time was over. We sang our good-bye song, and then soft toys were brought out for the children to play with while the parents did a craft and socialized.
I don't know who liked Babygarten more, Jacob or myself. I was so excited talking about it that my family laughed (in a good way) at how enthusiastic I was about this little story time we went to. We went every week, and I looked forward to it. The final week came and it was time to sign up for the next session which would be 6 weeks away. 6 WEEKS?!? I can't make it that long! Yes, story time at my house is great now, much better than before, but I really like going to story time and I don't want to wait 6 long weeks until the next one!!! I signed up of course, but that night I went home and searched for other story times in my area. That is how this blog got started actually. I found more story times, and in the process, a few other things to do that were also free and nearby.
No two story times are alike. I signed up for a Babygarden (different spelling at this one) at another local library, and while it had songs and rhymes as well, the set up was totally different. After visiting over 13 different story times, I have learned that there is so much to take from each one. A new idea on how to engage your child, a new song that is fun to sing, a new dance to teach a new skill, too many things to list.
I will list below some of the reasons why it is beneficial to read to your child, along with some helpful links. Take your child to a story time every once in a while, you can visit this page in my blog for more information on story times in your area. (Soon to be much more organized) Do our future generations a favor and pass this information along!
Benefit Parent – Child Relationship: This is a bonding experience. A time for building memories and enjoying snuggles. Every activity you engage in with your child strengthens your bond with them. Promotes increased communication with Parent.
Enhanced Speech and Communication Skills: Almost 80% of a child's brain develops before the age of 5. They are literally little sponges soaking up every piece of information that comes to them. Reading to them, especially during these first years enriches their vocabulary and teaches them about critical language skills.
Preparation for Independent Reading: The more written words your child is exposed to, the better prepared he/she will be to read on his/her own when the time comes. The child will also learn the basics of reading books, left to right, words are individual and have spaces, etc.
Learning About the World Around Them: Shapes, colors, numbers, animals, body parts, etc. There are books to help teach your child just about everything.
Attention Span and Concentration: Reading helps children channel physical energy and as such, enhances self-discipline and memory retention, both of which affect attention span and the ability to concentrate.
Logical Thinking: As the child gets older, he/she will be able to grasp and recognize cause/effect and abstract concepts. Stories often follow a specific scenario, and your child will be able to relate as they experience more of the world around them.
And one of my absolute favorites:
Learning that Reading is a fun activity and not a chore
I have included some links here for more information on why reading to your child is important, and also helpful techniques on how to read to your child:
Reading is fundamental: Great info and lots of tips
Raise Smart Kid : Info and Tips
Kids Health: GREAT page with lots of info and tips from reading to babies to toddlers to preschoolers