by Katherine Reilly
Many of us hold our childhood memories in high regard; the joy of seeing your father come home from work, the sense of security one would feel when held in the protective embrace of a loved one, but one of the most fondest memories I cherish of my childhood, is that of my mother reading bedtime stories to me.
Many people hold the belief that reading to your child before going to bed, is simply a matter of relaxing the child’s senses, thus, making it easier to fall asleep. In essence, this is true, however, the benefits both you and the child reap from reading bedtime stories, go beyond this universally accepted concept.
Relaxes your child’s mind
As mentioned above, reading to your child does relax all senses and fosters a sound sleep. By doing so, all stress levels are reduced, any sensation of anxiety is gone, and most importantly, waking up in the morning does not seem a grudging task, but one met with excitement and eagerness.
Acting is also part of reading a bedtime story. Playing different roles, changing the tone of our voice, even carrying out actions performed by the characters of the book, lead to a creative narrative which in turn, will inspire your children to be creative themselves.
Enhances Critical Thinking
By choosing stories with morals and interesting twists, you help your child think about a possible outcome, or how one’s actions might affect us. Pausing right before an important event and even asking your kid what he would do in the character’s shoes, will help him develop his own judgment, as well as improve his decision making skills.
Superheroes, mythical characters, incredible adventures and fantastic stories; all set in the mind of our children. Processing all these wonderful notions will trigger and boost their imagination to a whole new level. Introducing them to the wonderful world of fantasy and make-believe will help them cultivate their own ideas and they in turn will learn to share them with others.
Interaction and Vocabulary
Acting out roles or asking your child’s opinion of what he liked or thought of the story, will help him express himself in new challenging ways. Stories will help him assimilate new vocabulary, which will then be integrated to his own. Thus, communication will reach a whole new level as you will be pleasantly surprised with how easily a child can quickly incorporate this new range of words he has been presented with.
Improved Listening Skills and Attention Span
This not only applies to children, but everyone. Have you ever attended a lecture which you found uninspiring? If so, how long did you manage to remain concentrated? The plot of a story, captures our attention and helps us focus on what we hear. Our minds gradually improve at distinguishing key words or phrases while also making it easier for us to focus on what we hear. Reading to our children before bed, helps them work on these crucial skills, which will eventually boost their self-confidence.
Sense of Security and Devotion
Without a doubt, our hectic lifestyles and work obligations deprive us from time we could spend with our children. In many cases, parents don’t have the strength to dedicate a few precious moments to their offspring. It goes without saying that this leads to many negative consequences.
A child would not only feel disregarded, but will also develop feelings of guilt, as lack of interaction with his parents could lead him to the conclusion that he himself is to blame for being ‘ignored’. Experts have pointed out that feelings of abandonment will also lead to feelings of fear and insecurity.
All this can be avoided by dedicating a fraction of our time to reading to our children. It is definitely a way of establishing a connection with your child, while in the process, reassuring him that you are by his side.
To all parents reading this article. Pick up a story. Share it with your child. Cherish these precious moments you have together. Both parties have much to gain and memories to forge which will last a lifetime.
Thank you mother for inspiring me with your bedtime stories.
Katherine Reilly, Author