Tips for reading with your toddler at home [guest post by ABC Reading Eggs]

Reading with toddlers

Reading with children

The wonderful toddler age is all about play, exploration and growth. It’s an exciting time where parents get to watch major developmental milestones, like watching a child take their first steps or hearing them speak their first word.

Learning to read fluently is something that most children pick up after they start school. But many parents don’t realise that the learning to read process actually takes place much sooner than that.

Parents play a huge role in supporting their toddler’s journey to becoming a confident reader, and subsequently, a lifelong learner. And it all begins with setting aside some time each day to sit down and open up a book. Here are some tips for you to try at home:

1. Relax.

The best thing you can do for your child is turn reading into a fun experience. Show them how much fun it is and don’t worry about making mistakes. Learning to read should be something that your toddler is just itching to do all on their own one day, so find a comfortable spot, get into a cuddly position and get lost in the magic of reading!

2. Experiment.

So your toddler may not be interested in reading right before bedtime. Or maybe they’re tired of reading about the same thing over and over again. It’s important to establish a regular reading routine that makes everyone happy. This takes time and patience to get right. Try reading at different times in the day, in different places (e.g. outdoors, in the kitchen), and don’t forget to introduce your toddler to a wide range of books. Remember, it’s OK to not finish a book sometimes, and it’s OK to have a few off-days too.

3. Play.

Don’t always expect your toddler to sit still during reading time. Toddlers need to be moving, it’s part of what they do! If you have a particularly restless toddler, role-play scenes from books or recreate letters with craft sticks or playdough. Choose books with flaps or different textures, or ones that make funny sounds to turn reading time into a hands-on activity.

4. Come alive.

Did Sam say he liked green eggs and ham, or did he exclaim it with excitement? Your child may not understand every word you read aloud, but they sure will understand your tone and expressions. Don’t be afraid to read with expression or use your silly voice to bring the reading experience to life. Let loose with sound effects and invite your toddler to join in the fun!

5. Ask questions.

Encourage your toddler to make predictions and tell you what they think about the characters or pictures in a book. Ask questions before, during and after reading to keep your child thinking and engaged. Nothing is quite as delightfully suspenseful as guessing what might happen at the turn of each page.

6. Relate.

Search for titles that your toddler can’t resist by relating books to what they like. What have they been interested in lately? It may be trains, animals, magic, or the ocean. Try to choose books that can also relate to real-life experiences and feelings that your child can identify with, like starting a new pre-school or making friends.

7. Sing and rhyme.

Songs and rhymes help children understand that sounds in our language have meaning and follow certain patterns. Have fun reading and reciting songs and nursery rhymes together, and exaggerate the rhyming words to highlight the different sounds in each word. Read your favourites over and over again and pause to let your toddler finish the next part.

8. Repeat.

Toddlers like routine. Creating a reading routine is important for helping your toddler grow into a reader who reads for both meaning and pleasure. Read several times a day for around 15-20 minutes, depending on your child’s attention span. With a set routine in place, your child will know when it’s time to read and will likely develop their own positive reading habits when they move to independent reading.

ABC Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program for children aged 3-13. With fun online reading games, guided lessons, interactive animations, and fun rewards, ABC Reading Eggs makes learning to read a truly enjoyable experience for your child. See how it works with a special free trial of ABC Reading Eggs today. 

 


15 ideas for getting kids off the couch! [guest post by SmallSports]

Physical activity is good for kids!

Have you ever hung upside down in a tree to watch the clouds pass through leaves? Do you remember the pure joy of running full pelt down a hill with an umbrella to try and fly? Did you ride your bike as fast as you could to slide over a homemade ramp and skid to a grinding halt, because you were the lone ranger and your trusty steed was like the wind? I did. And as I look at my kids today, I’m wondering…. are they ‘city kids’? Do they know the feeling of grass under their backs or gravel under their feet?

The Early Years is well documented to be such an amazing time of growth and learning for children. Research shows that play based learning is the best approach – harnessing what children do naturally, and nurturing them within that framework towards critical learning goals. But hang around the pickup zone and you will hear many parents voice concerns that the kids just don’t get enough independent physical activity in the day. The restraints of small courtyards in ELC’s mean children are seldom allowed the freedom to run, roll, screech, spin and all the myriad of things kids do! They come home to small yards and plenty of screen time.

When do they get to ‘let loose’ without someone cautioning their every move?

Get children moving through sport and play. It is an inalienable right of Childhood!

Research supports that children exposed to physical activity and organised play based activities at an early age are better off cognitively, socially, physically and emotionally. It is not only a research item, it is a Right!

“Play is not only a child’s inalienable right – it also influences physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development. The right to play is protected in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the right to sport, which is specifically contained in other international treaties. For these reasons and the many reasons below, UNICEF continues to champion this right as fundamental to the health and growth of children everywhere” UNICEF (http://www.unicef.org/sports/index_23624.html)

This is why many early learning centres offer independent sports programs. Unpressured sporting activities for kids build confidence, increase fitness, helps bone density and does a lot for the brain. It gives children the opportunity to fail, try again, practice, get it wrong, succeed, be disappointed, be triumphant. Is this not the stuff of life?

What I absolutely LOVE to see when I teach sport to young children, is they learn what it feels like to run fast, to hit hard, to do their best and to be physically tired. The satisfaction of your body moving at your command and achieving its end goal is exhilarating. It is ‘freedom’ in my opinion.

Children need to learn the consequences of moving, the strength in their arms, the speed in their legs. They need to know the weight of their body as it crashes into something, or the consequence of falling. All of these things are essential in a child’s mental assessment of risk. It impacts their decision making throughout their lives. So parents, I urge you to encourage those times when children want to kick a ball, throw a stick, ride a bike. It’s good for them!

Here are 15  ideas to get children moving…. anywhere!

  1. create an impromptu obstacle course where children are crawling through dining room chairs, over cushions, hopping over brooms etc.
  2. pillow/cushion fights are great for core and arm strength and a lot of fun too!
  3. chase each others shadows on a beach
  4. handstands on the grass
  5. dance like no-one is watching
  6. make some homemade skittles and bowl them over with a large ball
  7. balloon tennis is a great game for indoors (hit the balloon to each other with your hand)
  8. blow bubbles and challenge your kids to pop them before they hit the ground
  9. juggle beanbags or soft balls
  10. skipping with a rope is an excellent sporting activity
  11. find a hill and let them roll down it
  12. take them to some rock pools and let them clamber over rocks
  13. encourage aim by playing ‘splat’ – throwing bean bags towards an object on the floor
  14. skim stones across a pool of water
  15. use pillows or cushions as stepping stones across imaginary river and children have to walk across them to get to the other side!

Guest Post by Bryn Jones, SmallSports Pty Ltd. Smallsports is an Early Childhood Physical Education Company. Teaching children aged as young as 2 the fundamental movement patterns vital to playing organised sport. For more information click here.