Research has found that the majority of parents read bedtime stories to children under the age of 5; bedtime reading is an important activity offering a number of benefits. We've talked about the importance of establishing a routine before, and stories just before bedtime signal that it's soon time to go to sleep. Stories also offer the oppportunity to wind down and relax, if the children have been jumping around whilst getting ready for bed, they can now calm down again as you sit in a cuddle and they listen to stories.
Stories offer the opportunity for youngsters to hear language and to begin to understand writing and reading. They are exposed to words and this forms an early foundation in the learning of language. Very recent research, however, found that for older children who can speak, conversing with them instead of just reading to them is six times more beneficial for them to learn language. As your children grow older, make sure you talk with them as well as to them, at the end of the day. Recap what you have done during the day, and if they are at nursery or spending other time away from you, ask them about what they did in that time.
Story time also gives you the opportunity to spend dedicated time with your babies. You probably spend most of your time with your children, but how much of it do you spend interacting with them directly rather than just pushing them in a buggy or being with them? The end of the day provides an opportunity to dedicate one on one time with each of your children as they snuggle down, hopefully for a good night's sleep!
Books play an important role in the learning of language and development. Start reading simple picture books with babies as early as you can. Babies will enjoy the sound of your voice, this can help to settle them before they go for a sleep. As they develop, move onto simple story books, and interactive ones that 'pop up' or have flaps to lift. Stories at bedtime establishes a routine for older children. If children enjoy books then they will learn how to handle them nicely, and by the time they are ready to learn to read, you hope they'll be keen to!
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