It’s Never Too Early to Learn to Read

Reading is a key skill that can help with academics as well as in life. Critical thinking, understanding abstract concepts, effective communication and a slew of other skills can develop once basic reading fundamentals are mastered. On average, kids learn to fully read on their own by age 6 or 7, but reading shouldn’t wait for that age to start. Reading can start from the moment your child is born. There are many benefits to reading to your newborn, and it can be more helpful (and in more ways) than you think.

Quality Time

Even if your child is a newborn, reading to them can be extremely beneficial. They get used to your voice and they can experience the quiet calm that comes with storytelling. Even if your child cannot understand the details of the story you’re telling them, they are slowly becoming more acquainted with language and with you.

Brain Boosting

Research shows that the more words a baby is exposed to, the better prepared they are to start reading on their own when they’re old enough. Exposing kids to language can help them develop speaking and reading skills faster and it can also help them build an impressive vocabulary. Studies have shown that children who were read to as newborns generally have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age.

It Still Garners a Response

Many parents who read to their newborns may actually notice their little one responding to the rhythmic movement of their parent’s voice with their little arms and legs. Reading has proven to help children learn to listen but also to see and hear what is around them, often eliciting a personal response as they become more familiar and try to interact, too.

Getting Emotional

Reading can help kids of all ages learn to empathize and sympathize. Older children learn to see the world through someone else’s eyes, exposing them to different hardships, problems, and general perspectives. For younger children, simply the tone of voice can say a lot about how a character is feeling as well. Your child can develop key listening skills that can communicate emotion and feeling without using outright words or simply stating so.

Visual Excursions

Since many children’s books include pictures and illustrations, reading to your child can open their minds to images, pictures, symbols, and more. Plus, the visual correlation between the story and the images on the page can help kids develop skills that will allow them to imagine and understand abstract concepts as they get older.

Making Reading Fun

Making it a part of your regular family routine will teach your child that reading is something to be enjoyed, not a chore that needs to be done for school.

How To Boost Your Child’s Memory

As time goes on and as people age, certain things may become more difficult. Retaining information and remembering certain things can become increasingly challenging, and as a result memory games are making a comeback among adults of all ages in hopes of boosting their memory skills and their overall brain functionality. It is never too early to promote a healthy brain, and there are plenty of ways parents can help boost their child’s memory. Whether you are helping a child who struggles with retaining information or is studying for a big test, or even if you are simply looking for fun, interactive games your children can play that will also boost their brain power, then here are some ways you can help hone your child’s memory.

Practice Visualization Skills

After reading a book, going on a trip, or even after a long day at school, ask your child to draw some pictures about what they did that day or what happened. Visualization is a great memory tool, not only for improving your child’s overall ability to remember details and keep them fresh in their mind, but it also helps with understanding abstract concepts and communicating abstract ideas.

 

Visual Memory Games

Speaking of visualization, visual memory games can help to significantly boost this area of your child’s brain. There are plenty of games like this on the market whether they are video games, apps, or physical board games. You can also make up your own games as well – ask your child to circle every instance of the word “the” in a magazine or play “I Spy” with the letters in license plates that drive past you on your next outing.

The Student Becomes the Teacher

If your child is struggling with a particular subject in school, ask them to teach you about it. This may be difficult at first, but they can start out by telling what they know before delving into what gives them pause. From there, as kids begin to explain the subject matter, they may develop a different understanding of it. By switching their point of view, kids can learn how approaching subjects from different angles can not only help broaden their understanding, but it can help them find out which methods help them learn best. Plus, kids will have to call upon their memory in order to teach you, whether they are teaching you about their homework or about the rules to a game they enjoy. Outside of schoolwork, this exercise can be applied to fun things and whatever interests your child has.

Playing Cards

Card games rely on memory a great deal, whether you are playing Uno, Go Fish or War. This can be a more indirect approach to building memory skills, plus these classic games can be played anywhere. Your child will have to keep the rules of the game in mind while also actively remembering what cards they have as well as which one’s other people have played.

Active Reading

Active reading can mean anything from taking notes and highlighting sections to asking questions and reenacting scenes from the last chapter. Adding additional activities to reading can not only make reading more fun and engaging, but it can help kids make connections and better remember the events of the story.

4 Ways to Make Reading Fun for Special Needs Kids

Activities like reading can do a lot to engage a child’s brain by stimulating their imagination, boosting their cognitive thinking, and critical problem-solving skills, as well as teaching them how to be empathetic or how to understand abstract ideas. Reading can be a challenge for parents of children with learning disabilities and other special needs, and the benefits of reading can be challenging as well. Like any kid with reading, or other activities, it helps to find out what works best for your child and what methods may help engage them to read, encourage them to improve their skills, and to get the most out of the experience overall.

Make it Interactive

Many kids with special needs, especially those on the spectrum, use their brains to understand the world around them in different ways. By stimulating more of your child’s senses in a more visual and tactile manner can help reading come alive for them and engage them in ways that just reading alone may not be able to. Alternatively, some kids respond more to certain types of stimulation than others, too. For instance, some kids may be audible learners and others may be visual learners. Try to appeal to what makes the most sense for them.

Certain activities can be more than just fun interactive things to do in addition to or in conjunction with reading, but they can help play to the particular strengths of kids with special needs. Provide a child with ADHD who learns best by moving by making a game out of it. For a child with Down Syndrome who loves imitating the world around them, recreate stories and scenes with stuffed animals or puppets for an audience of family members.

Find Common Ground

Many kids tend to fixate on certain topics, characters, or things whether they be a character from a cartoon or movie, a hobby like trains, or they may be hyper-focused on a particular subject like outer space. These interests can influence what kinds of toys and activities your child likes to seek out and enjoy, but it can also help you find books that might interest them too.  Identify what appeals to your child on other levels – what kind of toys or activities do they generally enjoy? What are their favorite shows and movies? Looking for books about these things or books that feature certain topics, events, or other features can be what draws your child into reading. If there is a book about something they like and already engage with, reading about it can be another thing they can enjoy as well.

Relevant Struggles

Kids with special needs may struggle with reaching milestones at certain ages, and reading may be one of them. Finding a book that helps kids with these struggles, whether it is a book that helps teach them to read or about a particular subject like potty training or riding a bike, will engage them in new and creative ways. Stories of another child going through the same struggle as them can make children feel empowered and less alone but also more inclined to reading. Reading is an essential life skill, but it can also open kids up to learning new things about the world around them, but most importantly themselves. Books about other topics, subjects and ideas can be helpful, but a book that resonates with your child on a more personal level may be the thing that really gets them hooked on reading or helps them feel more comfortable with themselves.

Finding Role Models

Kids with special needs may struggle with issues revolving around self-image and their own self-confidence, so in addition to finding books about similar struggles, you can also find books about famous people with learning disabilities and other handicaps. This can help kids realize that they can accomplish anything, too, and that their special need or disability does not limit them as much as other people may say they do. You can look for books about people like author, political activist, and lecturer Helen Keller (deaf and blind), Noble Prize-winning geneticist Carol Greider (learning disabilities), film director Steven Spielberg (ADHD), and animal scientist Temple Grandin (autistic spectrum disorder).