Reading to your child starting from when they are very young is extremely important for child development. It is correlated with better literacy and academic skills later in life, and improves the development of their brains and interpersonal skills.
Early Stimulation for Child Development
According to Orlando Terré, president of the World Association of Special Education, early stimulation for child development is “a collection of scientifically based methods, techniques and activities which are applied systematically and sequentially in children from birth to six years, with the goal of developing their cognitive, physical and psychological capacities, which also avoids undesirable states of development and helps parents effectively and independently in the care and development of their infant.” In other words, activities that have been proven to help your baby develop in all aspects of her life.
Adequate early stimulation is crucial for your baby’s complete development, as it encourages the development of brain functions in all areas (cognitive, linguistic, motor and social).
Your baby needs quality stimulus on a daily basis. If her stimuli are poor quality or inconsistent, she will not fully develop these abilities. A lack of stimulation during the first year can have negative effects in any of the these abilities. Reading a bedtime story each night is one type of stimulus that has great effects on your child’s development.
Who is it geared towards?
It is geared towards children from 0 to 6 years and children who are having problems with their motor development because of some perinatal cause, such as premature birth, low birth weight or other risk factors. This is not limited to the child, but as an integral model of intervention also includes the family, day care/preschool and the child’s general environment.
This time period corresponds with the period called Early Childhood Education, which is the period of sensory and psychological development in which the capacities that will be vital in later life are built. From the first months of life, the plasticity of the brain allows neuronal connections to be established faster and more effectively than in later stages of life. Your baby’s brain is meant to learn!You will notice how quickly she learns words when you read to her.
Areas of early stimulation
To encourage childhood development, early stimulation activities are divided into the following areas:
- Cognitive area: related to the process through which the child acquires consciousness of himself, others and the world in which he lives, including his style of learning, thinking and interpreting things.
- Motor area: related to abilities of movement, locomotion and coordination that allow the child to relate to her environment and be conscious of it.
- Language area: that which allows the child to communicate with his environment, including capacities of comprehension, expression and gesturing. This is one area that benefits greatly from early reading of bedtime stories, fairy tales, etc.
- Socio-emotional area: related with emotions and socialization, it allows the child to know she is loved and able to relate and share with others. This is another area that is positively affected by reading. Reading fables and short stories can teach children empathy and how to relate to others. It can also help them understand the concept of morality.
How is it done?
Above all, early stimulation is based in systematic and sequential repetition of specific stimuli, through exercises and activities that have been scientifically evaluated, to encourage optimal development of the brain functions pertaining to babies and young children. Reading a children’s story or book each night before bed is a perfect example of this. It is both systematic and sequential, as you can gradually increase the readying level as your baby learns to understand language better.