Reading to children and encouraging them to read has always been important. As we enter 2021 with more lockdowns ahead of us, it has arguably become more important than ever before.

The UK’s education watchdog, Ofstead, published a report in November warning that children in England suffered a significant regression in their development as a result of school closures as part of Covid restrictions. The report revealed that some potty-trained children had regressed back to nappies, vocabulary and numeracy skills had dropped and some had even forgotten how to use a knife and fork. There was also a warning that older children had lost “stamina” for reading. Meanwhile, research conducted by social enterprise Teach First found that children in poorer families in England and Wales were disproportionately affected by school closures because they did not have access to the technology required to learn online at home.

Reading has always been vitally important of a child’s development as they grow and prepare for school life. While many parents have struggled to cope with the pressure of being parent and teacher throughout the pandemic, this is no time to take the foot off the reading pedal. It’s important to view it as something to enjoy, quality time with your child, and not another activity to fill the lockdown days.

To help you on your reading journey in 2021, have a look at these tips.

Create a routine

Children need to read regularly in order to really reap the benefits, it should be done at least once a day. Given that children spend the majority of their days in school or nursery, parents often opt to integrate reading with their child’s bedtime routine, which is absolutely fine. However, fresh lockdowns in the UK offer the opportunity to increase the amount of time spent reading in the daytime. When things go back to ‘normal’ you’re both likely to miss that time together, and will perhaps opt for a book instead of the TV or tablet when everyone gets home.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re forced to miss a day or a session, just try to read as often as possible.

‘One more time’

Choosing which story to read is a balancing act. Reading a variety of different books is important to a child’s development, but so is repetition, especially as you look for books for 2 year olds. Reading a particular story over and over again can become tiresome very quickly for the parent, but toddlers, in particular, learn through repetition. So reading one story six or seven times, while boring for you, will have a better impact on their development than reading it twice, for example.

Create a reading space

If you can, try to create a reading space, somewhere you and your child can go, both knowing that it’s time to slow down, to spend time together, to read and have fun. If you read at bedtime, try to use something to make it unique to reading time, a special chair for you to sit on while your little one gets tucked up in bed, perhaps.

There are plenty of unique and wonderful ways to create a reading corner, from tents through to specific ‘zones.’ Some children (and parents!) need to be free of distractions to really immerse themselves in reading time and teepees provide that excellent, cosy environment.

If you’ve got more than one child…

If you’ve got more than one child, try to spend time alone with each of them to help build a stronger relationship between the two of you and support their own development (especially if they are more than two years apart!). Different children have different interests and different needs.

It’s not the end of the world if you can’t though. Reading is always better than not reading. Depending on the age gap, the older child will likely love the idea of revisiting some of their old favourites or reading their own books to their younger sibling.

Engage, engage, engage

Reading should be an engaging experience for everyone involved. When reading with toddlers, remember to point to pictures and ask them to point out things. Ask them questions about the story and encourage them to ask their own questions.

You may not rate your acting skills very highly, but putting on different voices and emphasising the emotions involved will help your little one to differentiate characters and understand what is happening. Some books help to identify how it should be read, with spacing, different fonts and sizing. And if you’re reading to an older child, who is perhaps starting to learn to read themselves, try to follow the words with your finger to help build their association with the written and spoken words.

 

There really is no activity like reading. It develops so many skills while allowing the imagination to run wild, and all while helping to solidify a relationship between parent and child. You won’t regret reading to your child more in 2021.

 

I am also an independent Usborne Books organiser so if you have any questions or are looking for recommendations, don’t hesitate to message my facebook page

Take a look at my post on free resources for home schooling too

 

Reading to children has always been vitally important for development as they grow & prepare for school & should continue through lockdown

9 Comments

9 Comments on Reading to your children in 2021 is more important than ever

  1. One thing I do miss is reading with my kids, before they could read we used to read books, but would also look at the pictures and make our own story up, or talk about what we thought would happen next

  2. I really miss reading with my son but at almost 13 he just doesn’t want his ol’ ma reading with him!
    In fact he doesn’t really read much now at all, but as a young child it was a huge part of his life.

    I work in a school now and I know how important this is. Great post x

  3. We love books in our house and we have a bookshelf in every room so that there is always a book to hand for the children to pick up and read. We read every day and really enjoy it. I agree, it’s more important now than ever.

  4. Reading is such an important task and a good bonding exercise as well. I loved reading as a kid and it was my auntie who helped teach me and it was a nice activity that we did together as a pair x

  5. Reading can be so much fun and is an important life skill. I have always felt children should be encouraged to read, and that they will enjoy themselves more if provided with a variety of books on things that interest them.

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