By Pamela Harris
The best thing you can do to help your child succeed in school is to encourage reading - no matter how young your child is! Research has shown that reading to your child not only forms a stronger bond between you, but also increases his/her cognitive, motor and social skills. And designating a space in your home as a cozy reading corner can make the experience comfortable and cozy for both of you.
Here are some tips for making the most of your reading corner:
1. Find an overstuffed chair wide enough for the two of you. Kids love to snuggle with their parents! (And parents love to snuggle with their kids!)
2. Make sure that there is proper lighting in the corner. Don't rely on harsh overhead lighting! Use soft, reader-friendly bulbs in lamps which are the correct position to prevent light from shining directly at eye height.
3. Find a table to put beside the chair to hold the lamp, glasses or additional books. Make it sturdy enough so that kids cannot accidentally turn it over when climbing on your lap!
4. Choose appropriate books for your child. Ask your local librarian to recommend books or do some research online to find books which have been favorable reviewed for your child's age. One great way to engage your child is to make your own books. Have your child dictate a story and type it out on the computer. Scan in your child's artwork or pictures that you child might tear out from magazines to illustrate his/her story. Print the book out and bind with ribbon. Then snuggle up and read!
5. Have a warm afghan or quilt in the wintertime to wrap you both in a snuggly cocoon. It increases the sense of intimacy!
6. Buy or build bookcases for the corner which as short enough so that your child's favorite books are easily accessible. Have your child choose a favorite book to read together!
7. An ottoman or footstool is a wonderful place to put up your feet while reading! And if your child is older (and no longer wants to snuggle as often!), it is a perfect place for him/her to sit.
8. Gather stuffed animals as an additional audience when your child begins to read to you. Kids love to have an audience of favorite friends!
9. As your child gets older and is reading on his own, put bean bag chairs in the reading space. Children love to "slouch" in bean bags!
10. An alternative reading area may be a rug or maybe even a big pillow on the floor. The most important thing is that your child be comfortable reading.
11. Make it a point to read to your child at bedtime. It creates a feeling of security for your child. Your special reading corner may well be your child's bed!
12. Don't make reading a 'hafta" time! You 'hafta' sit up straight, 'hafta' read this or that, or 'hafta' keep your feet off the furniture!
Whether the special reading spot in your family home is a corner chair, a bean bag, a rug or a bed, the most important thing in it is you! Make the time to read with your children! Even 10 minutes a day will make a world of difference in the life of your child.
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