There are now a lot of baby audio books and those Baby Einstein series. But you also see a lot of babies getting their hands (and even mouths) on phones and other gadgets. In this world where Ipads have become the norm and parents have downloaded several games and baby songs to their gadget, we cannot help but ask, are we going to see the next generation of limited attention hyper active children?
Is this what you are doing now? Are IPads the new nanny?
The latest survey conducted by Codes4U showed that it is now becoming a norm for parents in the US to use gadgets like tablets and smartphones as “makeshift” or quickfix baby sitter. Like the television, these gadgets are now used to “make their baby quite” or distracted while they are doing household chores. These gadgets are also handed to the child (baby ages 6 months to a year old, including) during family outing or to “pass time” when children are too rowdy or bored. Out of the 2, 403 parents surveyed in the US, 27% admitted letting their children to play those gadgets on almost on a daily basis while 22 % said it is for “weekly basis” use. 19 % admitted using it occasionally, while only 18% said “rarely” and 15% said never giving gadgets.
Is this now the trend we are seeing instead of finding effective ways how to raise a reading child?
We are not saying that gadgets will be a TOTAL ban in your household. What we are saying here is habits are formed during childhood. And this is a crucial time … so what kind of habits you are forming with your children ? Remember the cognitive learning theory? Children learn by observing what is in their immediate surrounding. Children imitate.
Children are naturally curious. Give them a picture book and they will open and skim through it. It is at this stage where they are picturing out ideas and bigger concepts to grasp. Your role as a parent is to read along with them and explain it to them. Bit by bit. This is the best way to inculcate the lifelong yearning to read and learn.
Start them young. Storytelling is not just for bed time. The board and cloth books for babies are part of the necessity alongside diapers and feeding bottles. It should be carried around and be associated with fun and cuddling. Read to your child after feeding them puree, after their tantrums or while they are sleeping.
Start reading a book of rhymes. You can start with Dr. Seuss as a beginner. Repetitions and word patterns are good choices. While you are reading, use your fingers to trace the words. It will make help you child follow the words and associate the sound.
Start writing letters of the alphabet with your child, one by one. Make it a daily exercise perhaps. Aside from rhymes and stories, you can also read poetry. You can try poems of Shel Silverstein. Read aloud complete with facial expression. Exaggerate if you must and this will help your child appreciate the relationship between words and the spoken language.
Make the reading time a ritual. Also when your child learns to read, let them lead. Do not pressure them. Let them find their own rhythm. Listen to them make their own stories. But do not stop reading to them. You can move up reading to longer stories later on. Put variety in your reading list. Aside from storybook, you can also use comics and coffee table books.
Make regular visits to the library and secondhand books shops. If you have a local book club bring along your child.
Foremost, be a role model. You should practice what you preach. Discuss the books they have read. Let them share stories at the dinner table. Instead of putting gadgets at their hands during family function, why not make a tradition of storytelling led by children?
At this stage where reading habit is being developed, we strongly advise to limit usage of gadgets. Those audio and games on the IPads will surely be their choice over books at this time. Establish well book appreciation and reading first.
A child will only take that lifelong love for learning if they found that inspiration to do so. You can only raise a reading child by making it entertaining and associated with fun, happy memories and lots of cuddling.