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One easy trick to boost your child’s brainpower and be smarter

One easy trick to boost your child’s brainpower and be smarter

Most parents know that reading to children can have an important affect on how early children read independently and how well they perform in school. Reading to children from birth onwards has always been linked to better learning outcomes. However, new research shows how reading stimulates the brain and creates this change. MRI studies confirm that reading stimulates the brain to improve the way it creates meaning from language. Moreover, this activity leads to improved reading skills and advanced language development.

As children grow, use books with little or no pictures

Most parents read picture books to infants and small children to help their child understand the progression of the story as well as improve vocabulary by linking the written word with a visual image. As children mature, parents can start to read chapter books with fewer, if no, illustrations. This change encourages the child’s brain to extract meaning from the words to support the mental imagery that allows the child to “see” the story in their head. Any child who had the pleasure of reading the Harry Potter series before seeing the movies will often comment on how Hermione has way less bushy hair and better teeth in the movies than was described in the books. These differences occur because the reader made a mental image of what he or she was reading that followed throughout the book, which added to his or her understanding and enjoyment of the text.

Start reading to your children early

Additionally, this research expounds that reading exposure during the critical stage of development prior to age 5 appears to show a meaningful, measurable impact on how a child’s brain processes and may help predict reading success. This means that parents reading to children from birth through, and beyond, age 5 may have a positive impact that carries on as the child continues to develop reading skills and learns to understand narratives.

So how does this new research help parents?

This information can help parents know more about how their parenting activities affect their child’s development. Parents taking time, most days of the week, to read to their child may directly influence their child’s brain development to improve reading skills and understanding narratives.

Your child will benefit from these efforts because he or she will enter school with this part of his or her brain stimulated and developed which means he or she will be able to focus his or her attention on other important topics. And the brain development that he or she already has related to reading skills and understanding narratives will cross over onto many other topics to help him or her understand more about what he or she is learning.

Finally, reading together with your child becomes a family activity. This means that you are modeling a healthy behavior, a love of reading and learning, and are creating lasting memories for your child. You can use this time to share your favorite books from childhood with your child, discover new classics together, or explore books to foster positive life skills such as sharing, tolerance, friendship, love, or adventure.

This research also helps parents know that electronic stimulation with video images, such as iPads, iPhones, computers, and TV, does not offer the same benefits to brain development as reading. Therefore, limiting screen time in lieu of reading time is a double benefit for your child. If you are unsure of how much screen time is appropriate for your child, you may want to also see my blog post on How much screen time is safe for kids?

Reading to your child from birth through school entrance, as well as advancing from picture books to books with more and more text, will help your child’s brain develop the important skill of creating meaning from language. The ability to “see” things in the mind through literary descriptions is a key ability that will crossover to other learning. Helping your child develop this skill early in their education may impact his or her overall academic achievement.

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Saturday, 26 May 2018

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