Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Importance of Reading to Your Kids

Since Ava was about 2 years old, Tim or I have read books to the girls at night as part of the bedtime routine.  Sometimes it was fun, other times it was a chore, but we were told it was important and over time the girls came to expect it.  Now that Ava is in kindergarten, I'm so glad that we have an established reading routine.  

Here are 3 reasons to start reading to your kids every day:
1.  Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning.

2.  From birth to age 3 are critical years in the development of language skills.

3.  The number of words a child knows on entering kindergarten is a key predictor of future success.

Since March 2nd is Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss's birthday, I thought I'd share with you some tips from our experience with reading to the girls:
1.  Find a comfy place to read.  
For the longest time, we read to the girls on the floor in their bedrooms.  While I'm sure the girls were just fine, the old people were uncomfortable!  It made me not want to read for very long.  Now we read in the family room on the couch and it's working out much better.

2.  Check out books from the library.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I've lived in St. Louis for almost 4 years now and I JUST got a library card a few months ago.  When Ava started kindergarten reading became a much bigger deal.  Suddenly we were turning in forms with all the books we'd read over the course of a month in exchange for a free Pizza Hut pizza or ticket to Six Flags.  We have a lot of books at home but Tim and I were so tired of reading the same stories over and over again. Now we just go online and request 20 or so books twice a month from the library.

3.  Include your younger kid(s) when reading to the older kid(s).
For a while, Tim and I would split up and one of us would read to Ava while the other read to Sidney.  We assumed that Sidney, being 2 years younger than Ava, wouldn't sit through or enjoy Ava's books.  That has never been true.

4.  Don't beat yourself up if you can't skip a day or two or don't always keep to a schedule.
Just read to your child as often as you possibly can.  They'll be better off for it!

Celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday with your kids!  
Here are some fun fish-themed ideas to go along the book 
"One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish"

Fish Craft
Paint paper plates or color and decorate with crayons and markers.  Cut out a triangle, add a googly eye and you have a fish!  You could also tape a craft stick to the back to make the fish into puppets.

Fish Prints
I saw two cute ideas for making fish prints from The Learning House and Kiboomu Kids Crafts:
If you don't like working with paint, you could also trace and cut out hand prints.

Fish Food
This is a super cute snack idea from Simple Girl at Home to go along with the book.

Go Fishing for Numbers
Fill a bowl with magnetic numbers.  Tie a string to the end of a wooden spoon or spatula and attach a paper clip to the end of the string.  Fish out two numbers and try to add them or subtract them.

Goldfish Graphing
Give each child a cup of colored Goldfish and have them place the colors accordingly on to their graph.  Older kids can answer questions such as "Which color Goldfish do you have the most of / least of?" and "How many purple and green Goldfish do you have in all?"  After all of the fish are in place, remove the crackers and color in the same amount of squares for each row.  Click on the link above for a free printable worksheet from Apples and ABC's.

Fish Counting Game
Mama Miss created a cute counting game for preschoolers and kindergartners.  Click the link above for instructions and free printables.
Join the Dr. Seuss Birthday Club
You can sign up all of your kids to receive a personalized e-card and special activities on their birthday.

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