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“Make the Most of Every Bedtime”

By Tracey Park, Talking Tots (www.talkingtots.info)

 

Whether it’s snuggling on the sofa with the Gruffalo or diving under the duvet with Upsy Daisy, the bedtime story is a special ritual for many parents and children.

                                                                                    

Sharing stories with children provides them with positive experiences of reading, making it more likely they will become booklovers. It’s also the perfect opportunity to spend some quiet time with children, away from the hustle and bustle of family life.

 

At Talking Tots, we believe the bedtime story is one of the most powerful educational experiences you can give children. Reading at the end of each day gives your child a head start when they reach school, as well as stimulating memory, vocabulary, social and emotional skills.

 

To help your children get the best from bedtime stories, Talking Tots has put together some tips for parents choosing books for pre-school children:

 

Stories for Babies

 

Reading is a journey of exploration for babies, so look for books that reward a baby’s curiosity. Gently curved corners are great for nibbling, while flaps and textures are irresistible to little fingers. If you have a bold baby, they will enjoy books with noisy buttons to push.

 

Babies and young toddlers may not follow a story, but they will enjoy listening to a familiar song or nursery rhyme. Simple action songs are a great way of capturing the attention of lively babies, who will love joining in the fun!

 

At this age, reading is a visual experience, so look for books with bright, simple illustrations. Place your baby’s hands on objects as you read the words – this helps him to associate the object he sees with the spoken word.

 

As your baby gets older, he will love “naming” objects and pointing to pictures when prompted. This is a great way to build vocabulary and boost your baby’s confidence. 

 

Animal stories are a lovely choice for first bedtime stories, as they allow even young children to join in with the story. Babies will often be able to “moo” or “baa” long before they can say “cow” or “sheep”.

 

Stories for toddlers

 

Between the age of one and two, most babies will begin saying a few words. At this stage, bedtime stories are an important way to expand vocabulary, and listening to you read aloud teaches your child about enunciation and pronunciation.

 

Teach your novice talker that words are fun by immersing yourself in the story – silly voices, actions and funny faces are all great ways of encouraging audience participation! If your child mispronounces a word, don’t point out their mistake – but do use the correct word yourself. Describe pictures and point out objects – “look, that jumper is stripy like yours”. Ask your child questions about the story, but don’t forget to leave plenty of time for them to reply.

 

Toddlers are independent, so let your child choose the story and take charge of turning pages. Sometimes you’ll end up reading the same book every night for a month, but don’t panic! Repetition helps your child’s memory, and a familiar story can be a great comfort to a tired toddler after a day of new experiences.

 

A toddler’s attention span is short, so choose stories that will engage them. At this age, children tend to enjoy stories about everyday experiences they can relate to – going to the park, visiting the zoo, having a bath.

 

When you’re reading, pause every so often to let your child guess the next word or line. This will be easier if the book has simple language with lots of rhyme and repetition. With a little practice, your child may even learn a favourite story by heart.

 

Stories for pre-school children

 

By the age of three, children have made the discovery that things are not always what they seem. This means they appreciate bedtime stories with jokes; the sillier the better.

 

Their newfound understanding of real versus pretend means three year olds may also enjoy fantasy stories and fairy tales; although keep scary stories for daytime if your child has a particular fear or is prone to nightmares.

 

Once in a while, let your pre-schooler take over telling the story, or take turns “reading” alternate pages. This gives your child the opportunity to practice talking and taking turns.

 

As your child nears school age, begin tracing words with your finger as you read. Ask your child to identify the sound that words start with, or words on the page that rhyme. These activities help develop pre-literacy skills, which are vital in helping children learn to read and write.

 

((Box Out – Win £750 of Bedtime Books, Toys and Accessories!))

 

Talking Tots is offering you the chance to share your bedtime adventures and win £750 of bedtime books, toys and accessories.

 

We’ve got some exclusive prizes including 50 brilliant bedtime stories recommended by Talking Tots, stylish nursery  accessories from Cossato, bedtime toys from ELC and much more. To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, just send us a two minute video of your children with a “Making the Most of Bedtime” theme.

 

For full competition details and information on how to submit your entry, visit www.bedtimetots.com







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