Why am I not surprised that a new survey has found UK parents spend nearly four times as much time engaging in screen time as they do reading with their children?
The poll of 2,000 parents of four to 11 year olds in England, Northern Ireland and Wales by Booktrust, the UK's largest reading charity, found that on average mums and dads spend over one-and-a-half hours scrolling on social and tuning into telly every day, compared to just 25 minutes reading with their children.
Half of the parents confessed to missing out pages, skipping entire paragraphs or finishing reading the story before the end.
Of those who admitted to skipping pages, the same number said they did so because they were too tired.
Almost a fifth (18%) blamed their lack of shared family reading on long working hours.
Sadly, many parents considered reading is NOT a fun activity to engage in with their children during the day, with over half (54%) inclined to restrict reading to the bedtime routine.
Yet more than eight in ten (81%) parents admitted their child 'very much enjoys' when they are read to by mum and dad and nearly three quarters (73%) said their child loves to share stories together.
Research clearly shows the importance of creating a positive association between children and books in their early years.
And, in particular, that reading to children at bedtime not only helps tiny tots relax and fall asleep more easily it also reinforces the emotional bond between storyteller and listener.
There’s also a proven educational benefit, with reading aloud helping children become better readers, listeners and pupils by building vocabulary and language skills.
Research even suggests that children who are read to on a regular basis before they start school are most likely to succeed and it is thought to be a key predictor of educational success.
We all live busy lives, but it is essential to take time out to share quality one-to one time reading with our children.
Here's my top tips to help parents make the most of reading with little ones:
- While you might get bored reading the same story time and time again, most young children love repetition which helps develops confidence. Indulge them if they want to revisit the same stories
- Ask your child to point out pictures and talk about what’s happening in the story
- Pick tales with a happy ending – it helps your child feel secure and look forward to shared reading time
- Ask questions about what you’re reading to help develop concentration, memory and language - and praise little ones for knowing the answers
- Don’t worry about trying to teach tiny tots to read - emphasising sounds and letters can distract from the enjoyment. Remember reading will happen in due course
- Don’t worry about sounding silly. The more funny voices you use the more your child will enjoy listening to you
- Allow your youngster to hold the book and turn the pages as you read