The benefits of children and reading are vast; It promotes brain development and imagination. And enhances vocabulary, and deepens your foster child’s understanding of their own emotions and relationships. The impact that regular reading can have on your foster child is certainly not to be underestimated.
Children and Reading: The Benefits
Like with all the wonderful things that you will learn from reading this blog, your foster child stands to gain a lot from reading. It dramatically aids and develops their sense of self, and how they relate to the world around them.
Further benefits of children reading include:
- Developing literacy skills: There is no better way for a child to get to know sounds, words, language as well as grammar and spelling, than through reading properly edited and correctly spelled content. While your foster child may be exposed to a large amount of written content via the internet, there may be a lack of quality control. This could mean that your foster child starts to pick up on (and reiterate) incorrect grammar, spelling, and vocabulary. Through reading books, you can rest assured that your foster child is picking up on correct English.
- Reading can improve concentration: Much of the content that your foster child will be exposed to via the internet is often catered to be short, sharp, and highly compelling. Ultimately, it heightens dopamine. Over time, this can have a negative effect on your foster child’s concentration. A shorter attention span can lead to impaired social skills and trouble focusing on schoolwork. Reading, on the other hand, serves to do the opposite. Lengthening attention span and improving social skills, comprehension, and writing skills will enhance your foster child’s ability to do school work well. In addition, they are likely to achieve greater academic performance.
- Reading helps your foster child to understand you and themselves: Our favourite benefit of reading is its ability to give us the language and the metaphors to not only understand others better, but, crucially, to be able to understand ourselves. This really is one of the most tremendous benefits of children and reading. Many young people placed in foster care may be struggling to process what is happening to them. Also, they may be unaware of how to relate to their new caregivers. The stories contained within books can be an excellent release for this confusion. Your foster child may even start to see you or themselves in the characters contained within the book. Ultimately, this will deepen their bond with you, and make them feel calmer and more at ease.
Our Top 5 Ways to Encourage Your Foster Child to Read
Now that you’ve learned about the importance of reading and the benefits of children reading, we’re sure that you feel super motivated to get your foster child to engage in reading.
Here are our top 5 ways to encourage your foster child to put down their phone or turn off their laptop and pick up that book that you bought them instead!
TIP 1: Show ‘Em How It’s Done
Children are often very much influenced by the behaviours of the adults around them. So, if you unwind in the evening with EastEnders whilst browsing for shoes on the iPad, your foster children are likely to follow! Likewise, if your foster kids see you unwind with a book at the end of the day, and you drop some (not so subtle) hints on the benefits of children reading, you’re likely to see your foster child following not too long after.
TIP 2: Make Time to Read
We may think of ‘story time’ as something that only younger kids love, but the benefits of reading are big. It’s vitally important to schedule it into the daily lives of foster children of all ages. Make reading part of your daily activities by working it into your foster child’s daily routine. Whether it’s straight after dinner or 20 minutes before bedtime, encourage your foster child to build the habit of reading – every day.
TIP 3: Let Me Entertain You
Whilst you may have had dreams of being the next Nicole Kidman or Johnny Depp, storytime can really give you the opportunity to show off your acting skills. It also allows you to create entertainment, and bond with your foster child. Try using different accents, pitches of voice, and tone. With this, you can really help to bring the characters on the pages to life. Build suspense by asking them what they think is going to happen next (at the right times, of course!) And, make sure you spend a little time to chat with them about what happened in the story. This will help them engage with the book and bond with you (another great benefit of children reading!).
TIP 4: Bookshop Bonanza
For those of us who love to read, bookshops present a realm of discovery. Each book looks like a whole new world that is yet to be found. In addition, bookshops always look appealing, displaying the best covers with the most engaging artwork at every corner. It’s a great place to take your foster child so that they can choose their very own book. And, get excited about reading it.
TIP 5: Facts, History and the Great Wonders of the Universe
Not all foster children may enjoy reading fiction books; some will love to naturally find facts, history, and learn about the world in a more direct, documented way. Linking to Tip 4, if you’re in the bookshop and none of the fiction books are interesting to your foster child, try showing them Horrible Histories or other popular non-fiction series that may be more their bag! A great side benefit of children reading non-fiction is gaining a more comprehensive factual understanding of the world.
Happy reading from us at Apple Fostering!