Reading Leads to Seeing the World in New Ways

Reading with your child is a seed you plant again and again. One of the most fascinating things about watching a young mind develop is seeing how one thing leads to another, how seeds are planted and how they grow into their own creations.

Ian is fortunate to have two parents who are lifelong readers.

Very young children “pretend read,” practicing early literacy skills modeled by their parents.

Very early in his infancy, he was very interested in what we were doing when we were reading at night. He would watch as we would open books, turn pages, and pages, though often in the beginning, the books were upside down!

Seeing images in picture books helped tremendously in his ability to identify animals by their shapes and colors. It was fairly thrilling to see just how fast his inventory of known animals went up, and how quickly he learned to differentiate between colors. This also became a great device to start learning about numbers, and his ability to count so quickly was almost shocking!

One day he suddenly counted to twenty, when only days before he had been having a hard time getting past ten (eleven and twelve are a very interesting hurdle). His numeracy skills were exploding! He recognized colors, and, with some help from several sources (toys, old episodes of Sesame Street, his dad and mom’s spirited imitations, etc.), it wasn’t long before he could imitate the sounds the animals make.

Father and son reading together

A bedtime reading routine makes a good wind down for the child and the adult.

Our reading sessions would normally occur in the evening after Ian’s energy level had decreased from the day’s activities. This became an excellent reading routine and, between reading sessions, other sources of information helped him pick up some abilities that will last a lifetime. He wasn’t yet reading, but through being read to and looking at books as we would read them to him, he put some great early literacy and pre-reading tools in his toolkit.

This has been a great way to ease our son from the almost constant state of physical activity of the day into a quiet landing into the evening and then to sleep. In the bedroom at the end of the day, there are far fewer distractions, sights, and sounds which can make focusing difficult for anyone, let alone a toddler with a keen sense of what is going on around him. Reading with Ian in a calm environment before bed has proven to work best for us. Now, when he wants to enjoy a book, he will think nothing of hushing his parents, who may be having their first calm conversation of the day, so we try to respect his space and give him room for some independent study.
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Children can practice reading to their parents and to others they love, like their teddy bear.

We incorporate spelling and other mental growth opportunities into other activities, such as watching television. We can pause the show we’ve selected and ask Ian to identify anything from colors to names to you name it. There are limitless ways to invite learning into a day’s activities. Learning can be incorporated into grocery shopping, trips to the park, counting how many pieces of mail came today and identifying the difference between an envelope, a box, flyers, or what have you. There are literally words everywhere and where there are words, there are opportunities for learning.
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The main thing is to make it fun, and keep it interesting. No kid likes being bored and no kid enjoys things that aren’t stimulating. The fantastic thing is that this works for everyone involved. Ian’s interest keeps us stimulated as well. Now days, Ian will look at me and say, “Hey, where is your book, Daddy?”

About Tony Conley

I am a dad who is lucky enough to work from home. Being a writer therefore needn’t be a lonely job! My son, Ian, and my wife, Monica, are seldom out of ear’s reach, and that is a true gift. I’ve been attached to the music industry for over thirty years, and will probably be for another thirty, if I’m lucky!

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