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The importance of reading to your toddler

by Maxine
Posted January 4 2012 05:41pm
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Reading is one of those pleasurable activities parents can engage their children in, that provides so many developmental benefits. When done on a regular basis, reading helps young children to develop language and listening skills and prepares them for recognizing the written word. Most importantly, reading provides the opportunity for parent and child to enjoy each other's company in a quiet, fun and emotionally satisfying way. 

heartComfort

Make reading a part of your child's daily bedtime routine. From the youngest infant to the oldest preschooler, reading at bedtime provides comfort and security. The nicest way to end the day is sharing a favourite story with a parent.

Pay attention to which pages or books become your child's favourite. When you support your child's interests he gets the message that what he likes or cares about is valued.

Describe the emotions shown in pictures or in the characters, e.g., "Baby bear looks sad. Do you think he needs a hug?" Young children need to hear and learn the words for feelings as they begin to make sense of their own emotions.

 

starPlay

Take time to talk about the story together. Say, "I wonder what will happen next" or ask, "What do you think this girl is going to do?" This simple conversation stretches your child's imagination and creative thinking. For younger children ask them to point to an object when you ask, "Where's the cow?" or wait for a response when you ask, "What's that?" Very young children will learn that communication is a two way process.

Change the tone of your voice and use lots of animation in your face, e.g., whisper for someone who is sleeping, or use a lower tone for something that is big. This will engage your child in the story and she will also learn to watch your face and listen to your voice for different emotions.

 

triangle Teach

Reread stories that have become favourites and leave out key words or phrases. Your child will love to fill in the blanks, practice beloved rhymes or take the opportunity to retell the story in her own words. This will make reading an interactive experience.

Take the opportunity to talk about the colour, shape and size of objects. Your child will be into his preschool years before he’ll be able to identify and label the abstract concepts of size, shape and colour but books provide a simple vehicle to make them aware of such concepts.

Reading is a great opportunity to bond with your toddler and to instill in her, a love of reading. For more on reading with your child, check out The Benefits of Reading with your Toddler

What books do you read with your child? Share you suggestions below!

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Helping your preschooler sleep through the night

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 01:57pm
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Sleeping problems are very common between the ages of two and four, even in children who slept well before then. Teething, mild infections and bad dreams can also cause sleeping problems. Many parents are concerned about their children's sleeping habits, especially problems around getting to sleep or staying asleep. Sleeping problems are troublesome because lack of sleep, by either children or adults, can lead to difficulties in functioning well during the day.

Here are some suggestions that may help you deal with sleeping problems:

Make sure you have a consistent bedtime routine. This means carrying out bathtime, storytime and any other bedtime rituals at the same time and in a calm way. Avoid exciting games, such as running or rough play before bedtime. Calm music and a warm bath can also be relaxing.

Encourage your child to sleep with a special toy or blanket. This can help your child feel more comforted about being separated from you at bedtime.

Leave a light on in your child's room or the hallway. This can comfort a child who seems to be genuinely scared of the dark. If your child is afraid, do not minimize these feelings. Listen to his concerns, but let him know that you believe that he can cope. 

Sometimes a child who has overcome sleeping problems may have them re-appear because of illness, bad dreams or a change in the family situation (such as moving house, her parents' separation or a new sibling). This is to be expected, and you will need to re-establish the sleep routine and coping strategies. Gradually, when your child feels safe, secure and able to cope, she will learn to fall asleep and stay asleep on her own.

Does you preschooler have trouble sleeping thought the night? What methods do you use to have her get to sleep and stay asleep? Share you experiences by making a comment below.

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The benefits of reading to your baby

by Maxine
Posted January 3 2012 11:58am
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Reading to children has many benefits. It is a great opportunity to bond and enjoy each other's company. It can also increase their vocabulary, trigger their imagination and expose them to new experiences and concepts. Moreover, reading with children prepares them for learning to read by fostering their appreciation for books and by familiarizing them with print and the structure of stories.

Some parents wonder whether reading to their child in utero has any benefits. While there is no research suggesting that this has any unique benefits, doing things like talking, reading or singing to your child during your pregnancy will help you develop feelings of attachment towards her. By focusing on her in this way, you can begin to include her in your life. Also, through these activities and your everyday conversations with others, you are exposing your child to your voice. As a result, she will be capable of recognizing it from the moment she is born and this will contribute to her bonding with you. So it's never too early to start reading to your child.

From the first days of life and throughout childhood, you can help instill a love of reading. Start by setting an example. Show your child that reading is an enjoyable activity by reading in his presence and keeping lots of reading material in your home. Read to him often (several times a day!), a special activity that stimulates your child's senses through colourful illustrations to look at, the comforting sound of your voice, your touch and your smell as he snuggles against you.

You can further enhance your child's enjoyment of book-reading by encouraging your child to get actively involved in various ways. For example, let your infant manipulate sturdy board books and soft cloth or plastic books as you read to him. He will enjoy feeling the different textures with his fingers... and his mouth! These actions can make book-reading a more fun, positive and engaging experience for your child by allowing him to play an active rather than a passive role.

It is also important to let your child set the pace. Spend as much or as little time as he wants on each page. Also, give him the opportunity to choose books that interest him. Raid your local library or bookstore so you have a wide selection of books available to choose from and let him decide which book he wants to read, even if you've already read it three times that day! By respecting his choices and supporting his interests in these ways, you will foster his appreciation of books and help him develop a positive attitude towards reading.

Try to choose books that are appropriate for your child's age and level of development. Children's books often come with age recommendations that are based on factors such as the book's length, the level of vocabulary, the topics and concepts covered, and the amount of detail appropriate for the average child's level of development at a given age.

Some parents find that their child does not seem to be interested in books. They try to close the book or struggle to get away during story time. If this happens to you, don't force things as this will only frustrate both of you. However, do try again soon. Choose your timing carefully and take into account your child's mood and energy level. Pick a time when your child is relaxed, perhaps just before bedtime, and read in a quiet place where there is no other distraction such as the television or other family members who are engaged in a different activity. Also, suggest books that match your child's interest (e.g. animals, machines, rhymes, etc). He will be more likely to enjoy such books. It's also important to follow your child's lead and to give him plenty of leeway for exploration; don't assume he will understand right from the beginning that the pages have a specific order, or that he will want to read the whole book in one sitting. The important thing is that he has fun, not that he does it the "right" way.

Video Alert!
Watch our Reading with Your baby video to learn more about Comfort, Play & Teach and reading to your child.

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Helping your baby cope with holiday entertaining and visiting

by Maxine
Posted January 2 2012 03:13pm
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The holidays are a time for socializing. Your baby is bound to attract lots of attention from family and friends during this time. While this can be stressful, it also provides many opportunities for your baby to interact with others.

You can take advantage of the holidays to teach your baby skills that will promote her social and emotional development.

  • Let others play with, talk to and hold your baby. Take things slowly, one person at a time and stay nearby to make sure that she can still see you if she needs you. She will learn to feel comfortable with others and feel secure that you are there for her.
  • Allow her to spend time with the other babies in your family and amongst your friends. Place them so they can gaze at each other and reach out to each other.

Be attentive to signals that she is over-stimulated or that she doesn't want to go to a particular person. While it is beneficial for her to interact with others, it may be difficult to interact with so many people. Let her tell you when she has had enough, and who she wants to be with.

How did you baby react to his first holiday visit? Was he over-stimulated? Fussy? Content? Tell us how it went below!

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