By the time bedtime rolls around each day, we are exhausted. Somehow this parenthood gig just never ends! The pressure of making sure our children are not only well-rounded, but at the top of the ladder in every category, is a joke that no parent should try to accomplish. No one is perfect – not any parent, nor any child. We are all just trying to do our best.
In a world filled with devices, it’s become quite easy to let technology take over our end-of-the-day parental duties. Who can blame us? A few snuggles and an iPad that can put a kid to sleep? That means that we can relax 30 minutes sooner . . . But at what cost? Could we be losing out on one of the easiest ways to bond with and increase our children’s intelligence?
Bedtime can be one of the only true parent-child alone moments throughout the day. It is a time that reconnects and builds a relationship. It is a time that allows for conversation and questions. It is a time that creates a gentle transition to sleep. It is also a time to read to our children. Yes, even those who can read for themselves. Research shows that reading bedtime stories is a quick and easy way to boost children’s intelligence. It’s time to bring back the daily bedtime story time in houses everywhere!
Science has shown that verbal interaction between parent and child is one of the greatest ways in which a child absorbs and learns, and that this is increased when a parent is reading aloud to their child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends reading to a child from birth onward. They state that reading to a child increases language development and educational success.
Children who are read to routinely at home show “significantly greater activation of brain areas in a region of the left hemisphere called the parietal-temporal-occipital association cortex. This brain area is a watershed region, all about multisensory integration, integrating sound and then visual stimulation,” author of the AAP wrote. Basically, this means that the part of the brain a child uses to read independently, to decode, comprehend, predict, and remember is far more developed in children who are read to every day by their parents.
The thought is that bedtime is the best time for this to occur, as it is quiet, uninterrupted time in which both the child and the parent are focused, calm, and connected to one another. Of course, reading together throughout the day is wonderful, but the distractions of life seem to always interfere when daylight is present.
Bedtime is a great opportunity to select a few books that cross the spectrum of literacy. Choosing a book in which the child can follow along, connecting letters and words to pictures helps develop a child’s reading ability over time. Choosing a book that sparks imagination, creativity, and adventure allows the child’s mind to soar to new places and dream of great ventures. Selecting a book that invokes questions, conversations, and curiosity grants the child permission to expand intelligence, problem solve, and plan. All of these books are wonderful opportunities, and as the parent, you will know what genres appeal most to your child.
Reading at bedtime is also a great time to slow down and not rush through a book. Taking the time to point out pictures, ask comprehension-type questions, and let the child’s imagination run wild gives the brain more time to process and take in all aspects of the book.
Furthermore, “The joy of a bedtime story is the key to developing a love of reading in children,” says Frank Cottrell Boyce, who won the 2004 Carnegie medal for his first children’s book, Millions. When a child is read to and taught to read in a classroom setting without being read to at home, it can cause a negative impact on the child. Purely learning to read at school is not enough. It does not allow a child to fall in love with reading – or for the child to understand why he should want to read and comprehend. This, of course, then affects him throughout his entire life.
Simply reading a few stories every night before bed is the easiest way to help your child love books. Once your child has gained the ability to read on his own, he should still be read to each day. By hearing and interacting with you as you read together, his vocabulary, knowledge, and love of reading is expanded; not to mention, the bond between parent and child is strengthened. A strong bond is linked to a strong relationship throughout childhood and into adulthood.
Soak in those bedtime snuggles; enjoy those precious moments; expand your child’s mind, and increase his intelligence by reading every night.
About the Author
Elizabeth is a researcher, author, and content writer for My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear – a leading online store for unique pregnancy gifts and manufacturer of plush toys; stuffed giraffe, fox stuffed animal and much more. She spends her days as the ringleader of a never-tiring circus; one full of tightrope walkers, nerf-gun shooters, mess makers, and danger-seekers. Find out the do’s and don’ts and other important things about pregnancy on our latest pregnancy blog.