Do you still own one of your childhood books? Did you sign your name in it when you were little? Does it still look appealing, feel nice in your hands, even smell good? Oh, I’m so happy for you! Just think, now you get to create that kind of lifelong love in your children. Don’t worry, this is actually an enjoyable parenthood task that involves not cleaning, getting entertained while doing chores, traveling down memory lane, and napping.
Here’s the not cleaning part. Comfortably surround your children from infancy with words and pictures. This means
You were going to throw out your birthday cards? Please pass them to your preschooler. Read them out loud. They usually have rhymes! Let them cut out the glittery, glossy picture on the front. (Then you can recycle them.)
The getting entertained while doing chores part. Ask your child to help you figure out when you’ve reached Kroger, Walmart, Chik-fil-A, your gas station, your bank, your dry cleaner. Does your toddler already kick their feet and point out the window when they see something familiar? They probably already recognize the green Regions sign, the red bull’s-eye at Target. A preschooler once told me that his mom shopped at the red tomato store (Earth Fare). These observances mean your child’s brain is realizing that shapes and symbols mean something --in other words, their brain is getting ready to read. And once you’re in the grocery store, ask your four or five year old to look up. What number aisle are we in? We need soap, do you see an S up there? In the pet food aisle even small ones can find the brand you usually buy (they’ll probably see it before you do.) And if you really want to be entertained, ask your child how to get back to your house.
The traveling down memory lane part. Do you remember Jack and Jill? Mary Had a Little Lamb? Wee Willie Winkie? Exercise your own brain while you recite or sing nursery rhymes to your children. Do it yourself rather than rely on a recording. Kids are fascinated hearing them said aloud, especially by their grownups. Try it. Say a nursery rhyme and see if your infant, toddler, preschooler pays attentions. They are hearing syllables in singsong, rhyming words, and lots of descriptive language. It’s a wonder they can hold up those brains!
The napping part. You’re too tired to read to your child? Are you kidding? THE READER GETS TO LIE DOWN IN A BED ON A PILLOW! So really, there is no excuse. If you can keep your eyelids open for a mere storybook or two, you will be paid back in years and years of your child not wanting you to read to them! Seriously, read to your kids at every single preschool age. Even a six-week-old baby lying on it’s back will look up and focus on a bright book page during an alert period. Point to the words. Occasionally trace your finger from left to right. Ask your preschooler a question or two about the content. Reading to your child is the same as saying “I love you.” And pretty soon your child will pretend to read a book by themselves and will memorize a favorite story that they will be excited to read to you. Enjoy!