Psychotherapy Services in South West London

Cognitive benefits of bedtime story

It is clear that the old fashioned bedtime story has valuable benefits for young children’s language development and may also help their storytelling abilities and their understanding of other’s mental states. Shared reading as early as 8 months but not as early as 4 months, has been found to predict later expressive language scores at 12 and 16 months. This suggest that parents should bring out the books before their children can understand what is being read to them but not before the infant can sit up. Starting to read early, by 8 or 9 months may also make parents more sensitive to their infant’s developing language abilities and specific vocabulary. The may then structure interactions so that they are at an appropriate level for the child. Research has demonstrated that the key to effective shared reading was parental style. Dialogic reading is based on letting the child take the lead through the use of open ended questions with adults giving informative feedback and adapting the interaction to the child’s level. For example a parent reading a book on boats and the child says “A big boat” the parent repeats “A big boat” imitating the child. Imitation is a form of feedback and reinforce collaboration. Sharing a bedtime story with a child may improve cognitive abilities, strengthen emotional bonds, soothe an upset child, lengthen a child’s attention span and make the child feel special.

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