Encouraging a Love of Literacy

Reading at Bedtime

Love of Literacy Emphasizing the joy books bring to our lives is especially important to model for young children. By demonstrating a love of books and making reading a part of our every day at Paradigm we hope to set our children on a path rich with print that will follow them forever.  We encourage parents to make reading with their children a daily priority.  A great time for this is bedtime! Bedtime stories are the perfect opportunity to settle down and get cozy with your child. Allowing your child this quiet settle-down time, free of screens, with your undivided attention will aide in them drifting off to sleep easier. It also gives Mom & Dad the opportunity to stop and enjoy some quiet, quality time with their little one.

Sometimes children’s attention span with books is short. This is especially true with very active children. That’s okay! If your child doesn’t sit through an entire story don’t stop reading it when they get up. Finish the book even if they climb down and play with toys. They are still listening and modeling reading behaviors is still important.

Always have books within reach as part of your child’s play space. Although reading stories to your child is a fantastic way to spend time together with them, allowing them time with books while independently playing is important too.

Below are some bedtime suggestions.  Keeping the evenings consistent and predictable for you child will help them establish and maintain good sleep hygiene.

  1. Establish a fair bedtime. Choosing a bedtime not only has to allow for enough sleep before waking but also allow for enough time with you before going to bed. There has been much discussion among early childhood experts regarding quality vs. quantity when it comes to parent’s time spent with their children. Of course, more time spent with our children can’t hurt, but it is also very much about the quality of the time spent. If you decide on an earlier bedtime it is very important to get the most out of your time together before tuck in time. It’s understandable that your little one might reject bedtime if they are missing you and need some more time with their most favorite people/person in the world!
  2. Establish a healthy bedtime routine. This is key! Screens should be turned off well before bedtime. That is at least two hours before bed to support natural melatonin cycles. The routine should be consistent and include 3 to 5 structured activities such as having a snack, taking a bath, brushing our teeth, reading a story together and maybe looking at books independently in bed until falling asleep or until Mom or Dad says lights out. If you have a child who struggles with settling down at bedtime, allowing them independent book time while in bed can give them time to become sleepy. Of course, you will need to establish expectations and possibly consequences. This might require them to see you reading independently during this time also if they come out of their room. If your child won’t stay in bed looking at books at first don’t give up, eventually they will.
  3. Create a safe and cozy space. Soft sheets, room darkening shades with just the right amount of light from a nightlight and cool jammies creates the perfect sleep atmosphere. By cool we don’t just mean stylish in their eyes. We tend to over dress and blanket our little ones during the night. Dressing your child in breathable cotton PJ’s and keeping the room temperature between 65 and 70 will also support their natural melatonin production. Making sure they feel safe and secure is important too. If they feel scared address their concerns by creating a solution rather than telling them they have nothing to be afraid of.

By the age of 2 children love to exercise their independence wherever they can, so it’s no surprise that they will reject your bedtime requests if they don’t want to go to sleep. Child psychologist Lindsay Gray points out that there are two things as parents we cannot completely control when raising a young child. Eating and, of course, sleeping. We can suggest and encourage sleep to our children and although it is a basic life requirement, forcing it is impossible. Having a reasonable bedtime, establishing a good routine, and creating a safe and cozy sleep space will help avoid entering into a power struggle with your little one and foster an atmosphere that encourages healthy sleep habits.

Encourage a Love of Literacy

As early childhood educators we love encouraging a love of literacy for young children! Establishing a love for books at a young age will aid children as they meander through the education system and beyond.  Paradigm is a screen free environment because we believe the benefits young children gain from shared experiences with books is so valuable.  Below are a few tips we would like to pass on to you for integrating literacy into your daily routine at home.

  1. Read on a regular basis. Have a regular reading routine in place. Making reading a part of your evening rituals will make your child look forward to it and even instill in them a lifelong love of reading daily.
  2. Allow your child to participate. Start out by asking your child to be the page turner. Gaining knowledge about how reading and books work is the first step in literacy development. For example, we turn pages from right to left, we read pages from left to right and top to bottom, etc. Ask them to point to the pictures as you read the words.
  3. Encourage comprehension. Take a “picture walk” through the book before reading the words. Ask your child to make predictions about the story based on the pictures. After reading the story talk about their predictions. Where they right about who the characters were? Ask them what the setting of the story was. Have them recap what happened in the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
  4. Be playful. Use funny voices for the characters! A mouse might have a squeaky voice and a bear might sound deep and gruff. Substitute your child’s name or family members’ names for the character’s names in the book.
  5. Take turns choosing. Sometimes your child will want to read the same book over and over again and that is okay. When it is your turn to choose, pick from a variety of genres such as fiction and non-fiction, poetry, historical, fantasy, mystery, informational, biographies, etc.

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. ~Emilie Buchwald