As parents, we are constantly encouraged to read books to our children even before they are born and rightfully so. Reading is a great educational activity that exposes our children to a large repertoire of words. Many words that we otherwise would not say on a daily basis. Since the day I brought my son home from the hospital I instilled this practice into our daily routine. For the first few months of his life, it was easy to read to him because he wasn’t mobile. He would sit still, look at the book with me, listen to me read, it was a great bonding experience. Recently he has entered the constant on-the-go stage where he won’t sit still for five seconds (literally). In the past month, I have found myself unable to sit down to read with him because he no longer just sits down. We will begin story time and it turns into me reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” to myself and Theo across the room trying to get into things he isn’t supposed to.
I have made two realizations since story time has turned into an epic fail. One is that by signing while reading I am better able to engage Theo. When you read to your child, they are involved in passive learning (listening to the story). By signing and reading with your child, they are now involved with active learning. They become more involved in the activity and it becomes more fun for them. Now when I read “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” I sign the letters and the word tree and I have found that he is more engaged, I have his attention, and he is smiling and having fun.
All parents want to promote our children’s education. When story time started to become difficult I became discouraged because I felt like I wasn’t teaching him anything throughout the day. All he wants to do is explore new things (i.e. getting into things he shouldn’t be getting into). But when I sign to him, he becomes more interested in staying put. Besides reading and signing, I can turn on a song and sign the words to grab his attention. Yes, he still ventures off sometimes but his attention on me is more consistent.
Instead of giving up on story time and feeling discouraged I am now able to find new ways to engage my child all the while teaching him by using signs.