When I was little one of my favorite things was cozying up next to my mom or dad for storytime at the end of each day. I still have vivid memories of reading Go, Dog. Go! Goodnight Moon, Where The Wild Things Are, and One Was Johnny with my mom. My dad liked to make up stories, so when he was in charge of bedtime, he would bring a pad of paper and a marker and we would write and illustrate stories together.
Over the years, I have come up with many reasons to thank them. Now I’ll have to add our bedtime routine to the list. While my formal education in reading and writing didn’t begin until preschool, we now know that 90% of a child’s brain development occurs in the first five years of life. In fact, babies form brain connections that determine how they learn, think and grow from the moment they’re born. So, thank you, mom and dad! Your bedtime routine helped me graduate with honors, get elected Phi Beta Kappa and go on to earn a masters degree!
When I started a family, I read many of the same books my parents read to me. I also found some new favorites: I Am a Bunny, The Big Red Barn, Little Owl Lost, and Guess How Much I Love You. I started reading aloud each night not only to keep my family tradition alive but also, to foster my son’s brain development and vocabulary. I learned from a First 5 California kit provided to me in the hospital just how valuable reading, talking and singing is for babies right from the start. These kinds of activities are linked to stimulating a baby’s awareness, memory and listening skills and long-term academic success.
The folks at First 5 California developed their initiative, Talk. Read. Sing.®, to ensure that every parent and caregiver can give their child this important leg up. First 5’s website provides information, activities and tips activities for newborns, babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
Although reading, talking and singing requires a commitment, it needn’t be expensive. First 5 has a variety of books and activities sheets available as free downloads. Of course, libraries are also a great resource for kids books and frequently have regularly scheduled story times for little kids.
Libraries can also be a great resource for music. When you visit the library for some books, pick up some kids CDs for you and your little ones. While some parents have great singing voices, I prefer some professional accompaniment to mask my own. I had also needed a refresher on the words and kids songs. –Now, of course, I can’t get the words to Wheels on the Bus out of my head but back then, aside from the alphabet song, I couldn’t remember many. Also, consider that what you sing needn’t ALWAYS be singing strictly kid-oriented songs either. I found that dancing and singing along to the Beatles was a welcome relief after several rounds of If You’re Happy and You Know It.
Talking to your child can be as simple as narrating your dinner prep or playing I Spy during bathtime. Twenty questions is still a great standby in our house when we are enduring a long trip or a waiting room. For more ideas of how to incorporate Talk. Read. Sing. into your daily routine visit First 5 California. The array of creative, fun ideas is amazing!