As parents, we often look for development opportunities for our child. Anything from athletics to academics. The appropriate age to begin is currently defined as: “Never too early to start”. The fact is that any type of positive exposure we provide our child with comes with great benefits regardless of what the activity might be.

The way our communities and society develop certainly have an impact on how we find and secure those opportunities our children need. Add on some significant price tags to some of those and some are limited or out of reach.

I am a mother of three (19, 17 and 7 years old). With that said, I consider myself an “older” mom. Being an older mom has given me the ability to experience early childhood parenting in two different decades. To give you an idea of what that means here is an example: 

Growing up, my oldest daughter and son were not allowed more than 20 minutes of screen time each day. Doing more would’ve been unthinkable! Forward to 2019 and my 7-year-old daughter not only gets more than 20 minutes every day but even has her own device! So yes, times have changed a tad! 

And while I have flexed on that regard and many others, you can ask my older children as they watch their little sister “live the life”, the important things remain the same and one thing I believe one should never flex on is exposing to good reading time. 

Research has shown that the benefits of reading to a child are endless. Reading aloud to an unborn child gives them the foundation of language and speech as babies can hear voices and absorb language before they leave the womb.

Now if they are able to perceive it before birth, imagine what reading does for them when they’re actually born! 

As a parent reading this, you know nothing I’m saying is news go you. I mean come on, it’s a no-brainer, right? But! As with anything you also know that when it comes to making time while juggling all kinds of parenting responsibilities sometimes it is easier said than done.

I want to share one thing that can be accessible and realistic to do. Its name is story time! Here are is a brief 101 on why you need to check it out:

Cost

Parenting is expensive right? Well imagine having an opportunity to take your child to a program that’s it’s complete and above all free! Well imagine no more because most public libraries hold story time and is open to the public at no cost! 

Depending on where you are located, you may find more than one to fit your child’s age group needs. If your local library does not offer one check bookstores too.

What goes on in story time?

The librarian or bookstore representative will pick three to four books to read. Sometimes they do it by theme or author. Check their calendar to know what kind of stories or themes they will have.

Children and parents alike are encouraged to sit in a circle around the person reading. Each book is introduced from front to back. The first thing he/she will do is welcome everyone and present the books to be read that day.

Children will get the chance to learn all the parts a book has: cover, index, title, author etc. The story time teller will teach your child how to find the name of the author, the synopsis of the story and of course to look at the illustration and see how it ties into the story itself. 

The story time narrator plays a huge role on how this activity will unfold. He/She will add tone, expression and even feelings as they read the book. Children will get a chance to learn from the librarian vocabulary and its pronunciation, as well as how to take turns to answer questions to helps them process the story.

This type of interactive reading helps children build comprehension skills all while making it fun!

The development benefits

Depending on the theme, the library or bookstore will also have a chance to sing songs related to the story or theme, hold stuffed animals or toys and my favorite part even dance in between books!

If you are in a library, you will also have the opportunity to check out the book your child was read and take it home so he/she can in turn read it back to you! Yes! Children have amazing memory skills. Story time is a great exercise for them to work that memory muscle in the brain! 

If you are in a bookstore, there is a good chance the bookstore may have price discounts of copies of the books read. Depending on the location they might give you one for free!

In addition to the core comprehension and listening skills children develop, story time is also a great way to socialize and for them to learn basic concepts such as sharing or taking turns.

If the story time had music there is another big layer of development as well, as children will have the opportunity to work in their motor skills and of course how to be vocal too!

The benefits story time offers when it comes to comprehension, knowledge retention, social, cognitive and physical development can’t be matched with any other activity that I know of. 

Storytime gives your child invaluable opportunities for growth without having to break the bank! And believe me, some development activities such as dance, athletics and academic programs out there are as expensive as a college course! So, trust me when I tell you that you can’t find a complete program like this for free. 

The hidden bonuses

Story time gives you a chance to enjoy watching your child learn and interact with the storyteller and her/his peers. It’ also a respite for you.  

For thirty to 45 minutes, your child will be giving all of his/her attention to either the storyteller or her peers! All you have to do is show up, make sure you keep an eye on your child, but overall you get to just sit back, relax and watch how beautiful your child is!  

I started taking my oldest daughter to story time when she was two months old. She learned how to crawl, talk, walk, dance, read and sing at the library. I have no doubt that story time helped her develop a love for books, knowledge and a desire to explore the world. 

As for me, I was a new mom in a new city. I loved the fact we had a rewarding experience every time we went as she had other kids to play and talk to while I exchanged motherhood stories with other moms who had questions of their own as well. 

All and all the benefits of story time are not only for children alone, but for the family as a whole. If you haven’t experienced story time, I urge you to call your local library or bookstores and find out when the next time is and prepare to have probably one of the most memorable, fun and loving times with your child. 

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