Image: Kelly Sikkema on  Flickr

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Flickr

Reading with your kids; encouraging life long learning, curiosity and socialization in your children.

As a Dad, one of my most delightful memories was reading to my boys. Naturally there were the old favorites that had to be re-told for the fifty millionth time. I’m pretty sure I can quote the ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ off by heart even after all these years. Sometimes, I used to make stories up on the fly. The lads would give me the intro and I would go from there. No two stories were the same. That was always a great way to stretch theirs and my imagination.

As the boys got older, we encouraged reading by giving them ‘book pocket money’ which allowed them buy as many books as they could within their budget once a month. Not only did they become very selective with their purchases, they also became very good at understanding the value of their allowance.

I loved that they often bought books that came in a series, so that they ended up creating a collection. Many of those books still sit on our bookshelf. Now its university text books, not ‘Zac Powers, 24 hours to save the world. Before bedtime, I would have them read to me. Just one or two pages, until it was handed back to over to me to continue the story.

What was really important to me was that they learnt to love reading and that it created a shared experience. As we read together, my kids would ask questions. In that moment, we were really connected.

According to Simon Kuiper, the good old bedtime story and self-managed reading is vital in childhood learning and social development. Evidently, that time of evening when we as parents are about to collapse, is according to neuroscientists, the peak learning moment of the day for children.

“Pretty much the best way to form your child’s brain is to talk and read to them. He/she needs to hear words and imagine stories. He/she also needs to learn the patience to sit on your lap for ten minutes [or lay quietly in bed] and just listen - the perfect preparation for school (minus the lap). Seeing you read will make them want to read, too. Your child wants to be like you.”

As the boys got older they would often carry around a book with them where ever we would go. This was great when we went out for dinner and the final morsels of their dessert had been gobbled down and we adults were still eating.

Books were their entertainment and an incredible source of conversation. As a parent, you were truly kept on your toes when your child asks you, “did you know Dad?” - when referencing ‘100 Amazing Facts about Pirates, Dinosaurs, or Ancient Egypt. I loved when they were little and we would curl up and read together. I’m blessed that I had the chance to feed their growing brains in such a wonderful, enchanting way.

Being a Dad is damn tough and the kids will eat you alive if you’re not feeling 100% equipped and ready. All Dad’s can use a little help and support on occasions. 

If you are preparing for fatherhood, exploring what fatherhood means to you or would like to enhance your relationship with your children but find that you sometimes struggle, then let’s talk. Call me on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

Arohanui, Simon

Simon Niblock is an Austin TX based, Marriage and Family Therapy Associate who is dedicated to helping men, couples and families find peace, direction and meaning within their relationships. 

Call Simon on 512-470-6976 to book an appointment.

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Simon Niblock, Couples & Family Therapy

Reference: Kuiper, S. (2015). Reading to your kids. Retrieved from: http://www.askmen.com/dating/single_fathers/reading-to-your-kids.html