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Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Sensory Bottles – Infant


ACTIVITY 

Fill a clear wide-mouth plastic bottle or container halfway with water (you can add food coloring if you’d like). Then work with your baby to collect items to place in the container. Gather twigs, pebbles, blades of grass, soil and whatever else you would like to add. Once you add the objects, seal the container using hot glue or tape (check for leaks). Give your baby the bottle and talk about what is inside, shake the bottle, listen and describe the sounds. *Keep a close watch on your baby in case of choking.* 

LEARNING SKILLS  

Science and Nature, Fine Motor Skills 

Materials  

Plastic bottle or clear container, glue or tape, natural objects 

More Than Just Fun and Games: What Children Can Learn from Playing Games

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By Helen Hadani, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

After sheltering in place for several months, many families are digging deep into their closets and garages for games that haven’t seen the light of day for months or even years. For families with young children, classic games like Chutes and Ladders, Go Fish and Candyland are fun ways to enjoy family time, but they also promote important social skills, including taking turns and sharing, and academic skills, such as counting, color matching and comparing numbers.  

By definition, games include rules. Remembering those rules requires working memory (the part of our memory that allows us to hold and mentally manipulate information in our minds), and following rules often requires self-control. For example, children have to resist the urge to touch their toes when playing Simon Says unless they hear the magic words “Simon says.” Similarly, in the classic outdoor game Red Light, Green Light, children need to exhibit self-control and only run fast when they hear “green light.” Even just waiting until it is your turn can be hard! 

Simple card games like Go Fish, Old Maid and Crazy Eights involve matching suits or numbers, which promotes early math skills. When children roll dice or use a spinner to determine the number of spaces they should move, they have an opportunity to practice counting. In fact, researchers have found that playing a number-based board game like Chutes and Ladders can improve preschoolers’ numerical knowledge and skills. 

Games are meant to be sources of entertainment and joy (and they bring out the competitive side in some of us), but research shows that some games can also promote cognitive and social skills.  

Don’t worry if your children ask to play their favorite game more times than you want to count – they are learning along the way as they get to that last spot on the board! 

Why You Should Be Reading WITH Your Child and Not TO Your Child

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by Kyle Pruett, Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Three-quarters of middle-class parents read to their preschool children at least five days a week. To many, it’s as important and routine as personal hygiene. Yet many parents need encouragement to keep at it because their children don’t always seem tuned in to the activity. Parents believe that regular reading leads to higher reading – and eventually writing – achievement, and research supports them, just as it supports their belief that it engenders positive attitudes toward reading as an activity and as a motivator in learning to read. However, a parent reading to you is not the same as a parent reading with you. Shared reading (sometimes called lap reading), where the parent and child engage together in a conversation about how to understand and mutually enjoy what is on the printed page with the ultimate goal of turning the printed word into its spoken counterpart belongs to the larger and more productive world of family literacy where language is taught wherever and whenever it matters. It starts with joint attention to illustrations and leads straight to phonemic awareness of what is in print. 

Here are my favorite reasons to read with your child every day: 

  • Literacy promotion  From tactile books to first chapter books, parents can edit and customize the text to fit the child’s interest, mood and curiosity about what is on the page. That is how they support the child’s innate interest in the printed symbols we use to capture meaning and intent in our written communication; 
  • Focused social interaction – As the child sits on the parent’s lap, the parent feels the child settle, become alert, get bored, get back up and lean in, which is all part of the reciprocal conversation the child and parent have in the moment. This serveandreturn learning is the favorite of the growing brain, which prefers it over other kinds of stimulation because being connected emotionally and synaptically allows the parent to use that information to tune in precisely to what interests the child about what’s on the page; 
  • Intimacy – The physical and emotional closeness of shared reading and attention lowers levels of stress hormones (especially in the grown-up) and settles down both generations. Try to name a healthier moment of the parent’s day; 
  • Entertainment– The delight that comes with the turn of the page, the echoing of an intentional sound, the desire to repeat a particular page, the search for a favorite illustration or the closing of the book with a slap (our son’s favorite) all guarantee shared enjoyment for a few moments of every day; 
  • Stimulating cognitive growth – In those first thousand days, the brain grows faster than it ever will again, and regular manageable intellectual stimulation encourages the growth of connections between the parts of the brain responsible for memory, emotion, problem-solving, thinking and behavior regulation. Shared reading reaches across each of these growth centers, connecting them for good. 

Understanding Toddler and Preschooler Emotional Development

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By Kyle Pruett, Jack Maypole and Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Little ones all develop differently, and it is a bit of a roller coaster. One day they are walking, and the next they go back to crawling again. Another child may be consistently using the toilet, and then when a baby sister arrives he goes back to wetting his pants and asking for a diaper. We often see children who are confident going to school one day and then suddenly cling to a parent when separating the next day. Some will cling to one parent while acting confident with the other.

Early childhood is an amazing time since our children are growing and changing daily.  It is normal for them to struggle with anger and fears that arise as they grow. They can find many situations challenging, such as being separated from a loved one, moving to a new classroom, coping with having a new baby join the family or just things they see on television or hear from older children. Many of these fears are hard for little ones to articulate, so they may act out, cry, have a tantrum or suddenly become very quiet. The key is to recognize a change and support your children by exploring what is upsetting them and by reassuring them by reinforcing the things your children know. (E.g., “When you go to school, you know we will be there at the end of the day to pick you up.”) You can explore more from there.

It is also important to take a measure of how your child is doing physically. A behavioral change may be caused by the impact of physical issues ranging from coughs and colds to constipation. Does your child appear to feel unwell or is your child acting differently from her baseline? Assure yourself your child is in good health (without fever or other signs of physical illness) and that she is acting within usual schedules and rituals and needs (eating, sleeping, pooping). Finally, are there any other identifiable ongoing factors (new meds, a new diet, etc.)? Other times, issues of sleep changes and clinginess can be common responses to common things, such as a nightmare or a reaction to stress in a sibling or family member.

In addition to making adjustments within their world, young children also begin to test their independence. How many times does your toddler say “no” during the day?  This is all part of how they experiment with the world, to test their locus of control on the environment and to see what happens.

All of these adjustments and reactions to transitions and situations in life are normal.  It is how we react and support our little ones along their paths in development that is important. Our goal is to calm children’s anxiousness and at the same time support the development of essential skills they will need later in life such as resilience, self-regulation and working memory.

Resources:

The Emotional Life of the Toddler, by Alicia F. Lieberman, is a wonderful resource that looks into this roller-coaster ride of being a young child (from one to three years old). “Anyone who has followed an active toddler around for a day knows that a child of this age is a whirlwind of explosive, contradictory, and ever-changing emotions,” Alicia Lieberman writes. The book offers an in-depth examination of toddlers’ emotional development and supports parents and educators with ideas on how to support young children’s development.

Zero to Three is an organization focused on ensuring that babies and toddlers benefit from the early connections that are critical to their well-being and development. They provide a great deal of support in a Q&A format to guide parents through the developmental stages of young children. Check out this article on responding to toddler fears on their website. This section describes natural fears for young children and how to react as parents and educators.

Literature Resources:

Books can often help you talk with your children about their fears. It is through the characters and their situations that the children can begin to understand what they are feeling. Here are a few books we use in our classrooms:

  • Oh My Baby, Little One by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Jane Dyer
  • Little Panda by Renata Liwska
  • Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley
  • Lots of Feelings by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly
  • When Mama Comes Home Tonight by Eileen Spinelli and Jane Dyer

KidsHealth is a trusted resource for physicians, educators and parents, providing information on both physical and emotional development of children. The section for parents provides developmental charts as a reference for children’s growth.

5 Mindfulness and Meditation Apps for Kids

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Our kids are busier than ever, and practicing mindfulness can help reduce their anxiety, improve focus and memory, and make falling asleep easier, research suggests. These apps will chill your child out and teach him to learn the basics of meditation.

1. Headspace for Kids

The popular adult mindfulness app now has a kids’ series of breathing exercises, visualizations, and meditations grouped into five categories: kindness, focus, sleep, calm, and wake-up. Choose the one that best suits your child’s needs. 5 and under, 6 to 8, 9 to 12; $8 per month.

2. Mindfulness for Children

Developed by a Danish psychologist, this audio-only app offers easy-to-follow breathing exercises for your kid to use any time she’s feeling stressed. Other activities like the body scan will help her relax, and soothing nature sounds can lull her to sleep. 5+ years; $5 for premium.

3. Thrive Global

Here’s another skill set from Amazon Echo. If your kid needs help quieting his mind during the day, he can say, “Alexa, open Thrive” and ask for a meditation. On nights when he can’t sleep, a “power down” will do the trick—and keep screens out of the bedroom. Download for free.

4. Smiling Mind

This app offers mindfulness sessions, developed by a team of psychologists, that start with a quick series of questions to focus the mind followed by simple, easy-to-follow meditation exercises. Download for free.

5. Sleep Meditations for Kids

Perfect app to incorporate into your bedtime routine. Has four bedtime stories that are transformed into guided meditations designed to promote relaxation and contentment. Download for free.

 

This article was written by Jeana Lee Tahnk from Parents and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Millennial Parents Are Ditching *This* Bedtime Ritual (and, According to Science, It’s Important to Bring It Back)

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Rock-a-Bye Baby, Tura Lura Lura, Frère Jacques—all were as signature to your childhood bedtime routine as bath, books and lights out.

Not anymore, according to a new YouGov poll commissioned by the Lullaby Trust  (and reported on by The Telegraph) in the UK.

Nowadays, just over a third of new parents with kids under the age of five sing lullabies at bedtime, per the study. Not only that, the majority of parents who do are age 45 or older, which means that millennial parents are phasing out the musically-inspired bedtime tradition almost altogether.

But here’s the rub: Numerous studies—including this one out of the University of Montreal—report that singing keeps babies calm twice as long as talking to them. Lullabies are also scientifically proven to be an essential precursor to later educational success and emotional well-being, according to Sally Goddard-Blythe, director of the UK’s Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology.

So, whether you sound like Céline Dion or Countess Luann, it may be worth delaying bedtime another three to five minutes so you can make time for a lullaby. And if your kid nods off even a hair faster than typical? Well, that’s just a credit to you.

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Set Up a Playdate for Your Kid When You Don’t Know Where to Start

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Recently, I was lamenting to my friend (a kindergarten teacher) that I wanted my son to have more playdates but didn’t know where to begin. I’m not super close with the other parents, and the idea of calling up a near stranger and asking her to come over with her child at 11 a.m. on a Saturday felt, well, daunting. More to the point, I actually didn’t even know whom to approach, since my son’s narration of his life at preschool is suspect, to say the least. (Oh really? Your best buddy is Marshall from Paw Patrol?) 

My friend (never one to let me wallow) had a genius idea: Ask his teachers who he plays with.

Emboldened, I texted the head teacher, Diane, letting her know that I was looking to set up some weekend playdates and wanted her advice for who to invite. Within 30 seconds, she had responded: Caroline, Jake, Asher and Rosie.*

I then dug up the preschool listserve and emailed the moms one by one. “Hey! I was chatting with Diane the other day, and she mentioned that our kids have been playing together really well. We’d love to host a playdate so they could see each other on the weekend some time.”

The response was overwhelming. As it turns out, everyone was feeling the same way—wanting to plan social get-togethers but nervous to make the first move. And, because I was inviting kids we knew he got along with, the playdates have, for the most part, gone really well. (What’s a pee accident or two among friends?) 

The takeaway: Your child’s teachers are angels from heaven. Ask them for help. And give them really nice Christmas gifts.

*Names have been changed to protect the non-toy-sharers

 

This article was from PureWow and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Six ways to raise a resilient child

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Helping our children navigate the stresses and strains of daily life is more important than ever. Figures released in November last year by NHS Digital show a worrying rise in young people’s mental health problems; sadly, my experience as a GP confirms this. One in eight children aged between five and 19 in England has a diagnosable mental health condition; the prevalence of emotional disorders, including anxiety and depression, has risen by 48% since 2004. “The pressures young people face range from school stress, bullying and worries about job and housing prospects, to concerns around body image,” says Emma Saddleton, helpline manager at the charity YoungMinds.

While we may not be able to remove all these challenges, we can pass on skills to help young people cope with stress and adversity. “It’s what’s known as resilience,” Saddleton says. “The ability to overcome difficult experiences and be shaped positively by them.” Our brains respond to the information around us, so resilience can be taught, modelled and nurtured at any age. “By doing this, through strong support networks and encouraging communication, we can help young people understand when they feel down and know what they can do to make themselves feel better,” she adds.

As a parent myself – I have a son of eight and a daughter of six – it’s something that’s high on my agenda, and I’ve discovered some effective techniques. Crucially, they don’t require you to overhaul your parenting style, but simply to make a few tweaks that will help your children thrive.

Have one-on-one time with each child, without distractions

I have a full-on job, two school-age children, and an elderly mother to care for, so I understand that we’re all busy; I’m not trying to pile on the guilt. But I’ll never forget what my daughter, then four, said one day. We were working on a jigsaw, but I kept nipping to the kitchen to check my phone. When I rejoined her for the third or fourth time, she rightly observed, “Daddy, you’re not really here, are you?”

Resilience comes from relationships; children need nurturing. It’s not a magical “inner strength” that helps kids through tough times; instead, it’s the reliable presence of one, supportive relationship, be it parent, teacher, relative, family friend or healthcare practitioner. My key point is, it’s quality, not quantity, that counts. Ten minutes of fully focused attention is better than an hour when your mind is on other things. If you’re on your tablet at the dinner table, you’re teaching them it’s OK to always be distracted. And that they are not important enough for your sole attention.

One-on-one time doesn’t have to be time carved out of an already hectic schedule. Make bathtime, car journeys, meals, queues count. Chat, listen, talk about your feelings, encourage them to express theirs. Once these one-to-ones become regular, your children will know they always have a safe space to open up.

Give sleep a chance

I see so many children who are struggling to sleep, waking tired, with dark circles under their eyes. A lack of good-quality sleep is a huge driver for stress: it has a negative effect on memory, concentration, cognitive function, and decision-making.

One of the fastest ways to improve sleep – for all of us – is to limit screen time before bed. The type of blue light emitted by digital devices suppresses production of melatonin, the hormone that signals to the body it’s time for sleep. In addition, looking at screens before bed keeps us emotionally wired and stimulated, making it harder for us to switch off.

It’s a steely parent who can ban tech completely, and I don’t think you need to. But I would urge you to issue a household ban on devices at least an hour before bedtime. Turn off the wifi, if need be. (TV isn’t so bad if you need that as a compromise; we tend not to sit as close to the screen.)

Earlier in the evening, insist everyone uses “night-time mode” on their devices, which swaps the blue light for a warmer glow. You can download apps that do this (such as f:lux), too, or buy blue-light-cancelling glasses. It’s also worth switching your children’s night lights to red ones – red has the least impact on melatonin production. When I did this in my children’s rooms, they slept in more than an hour later the next morning.

Get out and exercise

We all know that regular activity is important, and that most of us, children included, need to do more of it. But what if I told you that, as well as keeping them physically fit, exercise will increase your child’s resilience? It actually strengthens the brain.

It’s well documented that exercise is on a par with medication when it comes to treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety. This could be because it gets the body used to moving more fluidly in and out of the stress state. The same hormones released when we’re stressed (cortisol and adrenaline) are raised temporarily when we exercise. Regular physical activity teaches our stress-response system to recover more efficiently.

It can be a lot of fun to do this together, and I’ve learned that kids do what they see us doing, not what we tell them to. I’m a big fan of “movement snacking” – short bursts of exercise throughout the day. I’ll put on the radio before dinner and we’ll all dance around in the kitchen. Or my kids will join me doing squats, star jumps, bear crawls or frog hops. The sillier I look, the more they seem to enjoy it.

Teach delayed gratification

Resilience means understanding you can’t always have what you want as soon as you want it. It’s an important concept to pass on in the age of Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix and Uber. Psychology teaches us that people who can accept delayed gratification lead happier, healthier lives. Without the ability to defer pleasure and reward, our kids are losing an important skill for their wellbeing.

One of the best ways to teach it? Playing board games. These require impulse control, turn-taking, and mental flexibility. They exercise the prefrontal cortex, the rational part of the brain involved in decision-making, emotional regulation and, yes, resilience. Board games are also a good way for you to model resilience by being a good loser.

But there are no shortage of other ways to encourage delayed gratification: learning a musical instrument; listening to whole albums instead of skipping from track to track online; mastering a new sport; even watching a TV series together week by week, instead of bingeing in a couple of sittings.

Eat the alphabet

Nutrition has a significant impact on mental health. Good-quality food changes the composition of our gut bugs, which helps send calm signals to the brain. Poor-quality, highly processed food sends stress signals instead. A diverse diet, rich in fibre, will lead to greater diversity in our gut bugs, which in turn will help make us more resilient, and anxiety and depression less likely. Persuading kids to eat more healthily can feel like an uphill battle, though, especially if they’re fussy, so this is not about becoming a top chef – just trying a few tricks that can really benefit them emotionally.

Related: ‘It’s been bittersweet’: three Indian women on 50 years in the UK

I like to challenge the whole family to “eat the alphabet” over 30 days. I think it’s a realistic goal to consume 26 different plant foods in a month: A for asparagus, B for banana, C for chickpeas, and so on. It turns healthy eating into a game, and encourages children to try new foods. Turn it into a competition and see who can tick off all the letters first.

Model gratitude

Instead of pestering your children with questions such as, “How was school?” and, “What did you do today?”, teach them to reframe their day.

The following is a game I learned from a friend, who played it with his daughter over dinner. Everyone must answer three questions:

1) What did someone do today to make you happy?

2) What did you do to make someone else happy?

3) What have you learned today?

I love this simple exercise for how it helps us all find the positive in every day. It teaches gratitude, nurtures optimism, and recognises kindness. It doesn’t matter what may have happened at work or school, or how stressed any of us may have felt when we sat down at the table; the whole mood seems to lift once we’ve played this game. I learn things about my kids that they’d probably never have thought to tell me otherwise. Try it. It might just become the highlight of your day.

 

This article was written by Dr Rangan Chatterjee from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Why you shouldn’t sneak away from your kids when you leave the house (even if they cry)

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Even though this article was originally written with working mothers in mind, this is great information for all parents!

It’s very normal for babies and young children to be attached to their mother. Children want to feel protected, and the closer they are to their parents, the safer they feel. So it’s understandable for a child to start crying if their mother suddenly disappears from sight. To avoid this automatic crying fit, moms will try to sneak out of the house when someone else is watching the kids, but it’s better if your children see you leave.

Why should children see us when we leave home?

Before parting, it’s best to tell your kid where you’re going and that you’ll be back soon. Although it is painful to see them cry, it’s the healthiest thing to do. As they get older, they’ll understand that you always return after you leave.

It took me a while to understand this. With my youngest son, I often left the house unannounced and disappeared from his sight when he was distracted. He spent a lot of time running around the house looking for me after I left. Because of my pattern of sneaking away when going out, he sometimes got scared and thought I had left him when I was just in another room of the house.

To help reduce his anxiety, I began to look at things from his point of view and react accordingly. When I had to leave the house, I explained that I would only leave for a few minutes and then return. I also would explain that I was still at home (even when he couldn’t see me) I was just in the bedroom. I now could let my son happily play with his father in the kitchen because he knew I wouldn’t leave for the market without saying goodbye.

But won’t they suffer more if they see me go?

Depending on the child’s age and relationship with their parents, their reaction when their mother leaves may vary. However, it is always better to say goodbye when you leave so your child can start handling their emotions when mother and child separate.

It’s also important to explain to your child that you’ll leave but will return, or else even a five-minute absence can cause children to panic. In early childhood stages, 10 minutes feels much longer for your child than it does for you. Over time, the child will understand that Mom comes back after all, and their crying fits will lessen in time and frequency.

Will they every stop crying when I leave?

The crying won’t stop immediately, and maybe not even soon. But just because you don’t hear them cry when you leave doesn’t mean the babysitter doesn’t have to handle their tears when you leave. However, it’s not the end of the world if they cry. Always allowing your child to say goodbye even when he cries will allow him to get used to the pattern and thus eventually balance out his emotions.

Disappearing from your child’s sight without warning can generate feelings of insecurity and lack of protection. Never leave home without saying goodbye to your child. Remember that good communication and emotional bonds (even when they are young) generate an emotional support in your child that will affect them for their whole life.

 

This article was written by Fernanda Gonzalez Casafús from Family Share and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Raise a Reader, According to Experts and Parents

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Want your child to fall in love with reading? We asked parents, teachers, and librarians for their tips for inspiring kids to read.

Everyone wants his or her kid to grow up to be a great reader. After all, childhood reading skills have even been shown to predict success not just in school, but also later in life. It isn’t too hard to get a child to read. But fostering a love of reading? That’s the hard part.

You can tip the scales in your little reader’s favor though. Learn how to raise a reader by following these expert tips.

Stock Up on Books

Having a home library—even a small one—is a big deal, especially when it comes to raising readers. Studies have shown there is a strong correlation between the number of books in a household and kids’ overall educational outcomes. In other words, kids whose parents keep books in the house have a big advantage. This is because when kids are constantly exposed to books, they become a normal part of everyday life.

“I have always had books in the house,” says Jaime Herndon, a writer and parent. “I read to Micah when he was in utero, read to him as an infant, and he’s always reached for books. They’ve become part of the everyday for him, and he ‘reads’ at least 2-3 books a day, plus our nightly reading.”

Lead by Example

The best way to raise a reader is to read yourself. Don’t do it secretly. Read where your kids can see you. If your kids think that reading is something adults don’t do, they might be less inclined to do it as they get older.

“Modeling” what to do is one of the best ways to teach any behavior, because kids love to copy adults—especially their parents.

“Adults need to model reading for children,” advises Carol Ann Moon, reference and instructional outreach librarian at St. Leo University in Florida. “I read because I had many models in my family.”

Read to Your Kids

You can also model by reading aloud to your kids. Making reading a group activity has several benefits. Kids not only learn to love reading because it’s something they do with the people they love, but they also learn how to pronounce the words they see on the page and pick up reading fluency skills, too.

When they’re old enough, ask your kids to read books aloud to you. If they’re nervous, get them to read to the family pet instead. Dogs are fantastic listeners.

“I read to [my son] Prose and now he wants to read me the books,” says author and mom Fabienne Josaphat. “It’s amazing how he can’t read yet—he’s only 3—but he memorizes the lines, and he recites them. … I try to put down my phone more and show him that I am either paying attention to him or reading.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting to read out loud to your child at birth.

Engage Kids’ Natural Curiosity

If you’ve been raising a reader, they may already think of books as sources of fun. Still, they may not know the variety of books out there. So when you’re out and about and your child starts asking questions about the world around her, make note.

“When [my children and I] are doing other things and become curious, we make an effort to learn more by finding a book on the topic on our next trip to the library,” says Kelli Casey, a secondary reading and English language arts resource teacher. By doing this, Casey shows her kids that nonfiction books are great resources for learning new things.

Make Reading a Habit

Just like with many other healthy things, reading becomes second nature to kids when they make it a habit. As a parent, you can foster a reading habit early by setting out a time each day to share a book with your child. Habits are made and kept by repetition, so try your best not to skip a day, even when you’re busy.

“Some nights I’m just so tired, but I remember that I don’t want [my son] to lose interest in reading,” says Donna Ho, a mom and former language arts teacher. “So I suck it up and read to him. When he asks to read a second book, I do.”

 

This article was written by Rebecca Renner from Real Simple and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.