5 Helpful tips to keep your child engaged when you read to them

As parents, we all know the importance and value of reading to our young ones. It builds language skills, creative thinking and empathy. Reading together introduces children to more complex concepts and ideas beyond their daily experience, and importantly, helps to cement the bond between parent and child.

Studies find that young children whose parents read to them daily have been exposed to almost 300,000 more words by the time they enter preschool than other children who are not read to daily. Researchers found that the upper limit of the number of words these children encounter can go up to over a million words! 

It sounds like a simple thing to do, but when it comes to real life, we all know things don’t always go as planned - perhaps your little one is restless or squirmy, or doesn’t seem interested in the story. Maybe you’re wondering how on earth your child’s preschool teacher keeps multiple children interested in a book in school!

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How can we keep our children engaged during reading time at home?

Put your child’s name into the book

Bonus points if you can find a book that already uses your child’s name for one of the characters, but even if this is proving difficult, you can always substitute your child’s name. Children who are pre-readers will never know! 

When they hear their own name as a character in the book, children find it easier to connect with the character and put themselves in the character’s shoes. 

Let your children choose the book

A great way to let children buy into reading is to let them have autonomy over what to read.

The public library system in Singapore is comprehensive, with branches in every neighborhood and sections built specifically to cater to children’s needs. You might be surprised to find what your children pick out!

If they are stuck with the abundance of choices, make it easier for them by putting a curated selection of books out so that they can pick from there. Remember to cover a wide variety of topics, themes and characters to broaden your child’s horizons. 

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Interact with the illustrations and pictures in the book

Children who are not reading yet do not pay much attention to the printed words in the book, because they make no meaningful sense. This is why children’s books often have vivid, beautiful illustrations - which hold a great deal more meaning for pre-readers.

Instead of only reading the text of the book, interact with the pictures on each page. What does your child see? What is funny about the character’s facial expressions? How do they think the character feels, or why do they think the character is acting this way? You can do this before or after reading the words. 

Use predictive and responsive strategies along the way

It is important to get our children to respond to the book by asking questions - why did the character do this? Do you think it’s right? For younger children, the easiest way to do this is to get them to predict what they think might happen next. 

This can start even with just looking at the front cover. As they look at the cover illustration and read the title, ask them what they think the book is about.

Before you turn each page, you can ask them what they think the character might do next. Offer your own opinions as well, and have a good laugh over funny predictions or give each other high fives when predictions turn out right. 

Be excited, interested and engaged when you read to your children

Children know when you don’t buy into what you’re doing. Set aside your phone, email, and prepare to dedicate a block of time to reading without any distractions as far as possible.

Make yourselves comfortable on the couch or on the playmat, or even tucked into bed before bedtime.

Infuse your voice with excitement, interest and expressiveness - remember, at the end of the day, the highest value comes from enjoying this special time with your children. 

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How do teachers in preschools in Singapore engage children in reading?

The best preschools in Singapore understand the importance of reading and work it into their daily routines. At Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse, the Author’s Universe programme for Nursery and Kindergarten children is carefully and thoughtfully designed to promote preschoolers’ exposure to quality literature. Through a fun exploration of story elements and a discovery of their own story preferences, our children will eventually create their own stories and even contribute to a book publication at the end of the year.

Keen to find out more about the Author’s Universe and other strategies employed to help children grow a lasting love of reading and literature? Book a tour at your preferred Kiddiwinkie Schoolhouse location today.


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