When my youngest was born, nearly forty years ago, I would rock him while nursing him, his three-year-old sister and fifteen-month-old brother in their child-sized rocking chairs. As we rocked, I read stories to the children and sang songs, which I had done from the time my daughter was born. we had a time together three to four times a day when the children listened to the stories and songs, soon learning to sing themselves. Of course, I operated on instinct only, and my children didn’t realize that reading and singing wasn’t a common occurrence in every home, until they were in school and visited friends’ homes and came home shocked. I had been raised by a mother who also read and sang to her children. neither of us read anywhere that we should; we just did. now, modern theory, concerning the way infants learn and respond promotes reading and singing to babies in order to boost development of thinking, language, and early reading skills.
According to Reading to Baby, children don’t read for two basic reasons: too much TV and a culture than doesn’t value books. Parents and other adults in a child’s life can help change this tendency by making reading a part of their lives and reading to their children, setting an example that will encourage children to be lifelong readers.
Reasons for reading to babies and children include parents having fun with their children, as I did with mine, as well as helping youngsters relax and go from bundles of energy to a child ready for naps or bedtime. However reading does much more: it helps develop thinking and language skills, which go hand in hand. even if infants don’t know the meaning of the words they hear, the sounds help their brains learn critical language skills.
Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, state that there’s only one true method to help infants speak and understand language, and that is to read to them. while infants don’t know the meaning of many words, hearing the sounds helps their brains develop critical language skills. it enhances a child’s pronunciation of words, expands vocabulary and begins programming the brain for more advanced speech and reading.
Adding singing to the mixture creates even more verbal stimulation to help children develop thinking and language skills later. a panel of experts during a White House symposium stated that parents should sing and talk to even the youngest infants.
Penny Warner, from Parenting Resources of Evenflo says, Singing to baby is one of the best ways to encourage his ability to vocalize in syllables.
Therefore, even before experts agreed, by reading and singing to my children I showed them that I valued books, helped them develop a love of reading and music; and most of all, their development of thinking and language skills were boosted – not bad for doing something I liked to do.
3. Talking, Sing to Baby is Vital to Brain Development, The Star Tribune, April 18, 1997