Maximising quality time: How reading can benefit all members of the family
It can be a hard task trying to find ways of spending quality time with the youngest members in your family. If you’re looking to spend more time with your grandchildren, reading is the perfect activity.
Nestling down with a book is a low energy task that all parties can benefit from. Not only is it important to step away from screens from time to time, it’s also a way of bringing learning into the home; no matter your age. It can improve children’s development and increase good habits, you might learn something new too!
Why reading is good for your grandchild
Studies have found that reading just for fun, can make a significant difference with how your grandchild may perform at school. It is understood that children who regularly read in their free-time or with family members can build upon their vocabulary and understanding of different words and topics.
Not only does it improve general knowledge, reading outside of school can increase children’s understanding and tolerance towards different cultures and religions.
When bringing reading into the family home it’s important to have a variety of reading materials as you and the younger members of your family can find inspiration from reading many different types of book. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, comic books, magazines or recipe books, it’s important to read anything and everything that can inspire questions and conversation.
By regularly making time to read, you are forming good habits within your grandchild, rather than them heading straight to the television or tablet; bringing balance to the resources they use for knowledge and creativity.
Why reading with your grandchild is good for you
Developing your grandchild's skills with regular reading is a fantastic opportunity to spend more time with them. But it is important to recognise that this activity can also be highly beneficial for your mental and physical health too.
Many studies have suggested that activities such as reading and writing later in life can have a positive effect in maintaining cognitive function and strength of memory. Those who continue to read throughout later life see a reduced rate in memory decline by 32%. Those who didn’t take part in any reading activity later in life saw their memory decline 48% faster.
Whilst these stats may seem staggering, reading as a regular activity, is often overlooked. Sometimes, and we can all put our hands up to admit it, it is much easier to just switch the telly on. However, compared to just watching TV, reading is a stronger workout for our brains; digesting text can require a higher level of mental focus than simply staring at a screen.
"Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation… It really doesn't matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book, you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination." - Dr David Lewis
One study found that between the ages of 20 and 60, if individuals consistently engage in mentally stimulating habits and hobbies, diseases that affect cognitive ability and memory loss are less likely to occur. It therefore comes as no surprise that working out your brain can be a useful tool for reducing the onset of Alzheimer's and Dementia.
Did you know that reading is also a simple and effective way to reduce stress? The University of Sussex’s MindLab has found that, compared to listening to music, going for a walk or making a coffee, reading a book provides the most calming qualities. Results showed that of the participants involved, on average it only took six minutes to experience a reduction in heart rate and relaxation of muscle tension.
Tips on reading with your grandchildren
If you’re using reading as a chance to get in on some of that quality time, we have some simple tips for getting confident and creative with it. By making it an entertaining experience, you might just manage to drag the younger members of the family away from those screens!
So, if you’re not feeling confident with being the storyteller, we’ve got all the tricks on making this shared activity, engaging, fun and educational.
Before you read a book to the children in your family, why not give it the once over and read it first? You’ll get to know the content, ensuring that it is not only appropriate, but to also deliver the greatest story without fault.
Get into character
Have fun with it. Put on different voices for different characters. If there’s two or more of you getting involved in the reading, you can take turns over who plays what character. This really allows this activity to become enriched quality time, as it allows the younger members to visualise the characters, bringing the story to life.
Encourage audience participation
Get the audience involved in the story-telling! Stop reading from time to time, allowing them to ask any questions they may have. You can even encourage them to try and guess what is going to happen next. Perhaps even let them take the reigns of the story? Let your grandchildren explain to you what they would love to be the next part of the story; encourage their imagination!
Focus on the pictures
Utilise the pictures, especially if it’s an image heavy book. Ask your grandchild to talk about what they think the picture is saying or what certain characters might be getting up to. It’s a great way to also create your own benefits to reading, and will help to integrate learning into that all important quality time.
You can make reading more fun by going slow; enjoy the moment just as much as it gives your captivated audience a chance to take it all in. As the younger members of the family grow older and gain confidence in their reading ability, it’s a great benefit to not only take turns with the reading but also to get them to explain what has happened in the story. Soon enough they’ll be reading to you!
Remember! This activity doesn’t need to exclusively take part within the home. It can be done in the car, supermarket and even perhaps a restaurant. You can also enrich children’s experience by utilising audio-books; they can be listened to on the go and you can always discuss the story afterwards.
Even better, distance is no barrier to reading with your grandchildren. You can connect with them and still read them a bedtime story or help them with their homework by phoning them or connecting with them on Skype or Zoom.
Reading can be a powerful tool, no matter what age you are. A good story can reduce stress, maintain cognitive function later in life and improve general knowledge. It’s also the perfect channel when trying to spend some quality time with any grandchildren that you may have.
So, what are you waiting for? If you’re looking to de-stress or simply just read more, Penguin have created a list of 21 books that could be the perfect source of inspiration. Why not give it a go? However, if you’re on the hunt for something fun and appropriate for the children of your family, Best Books have categorised suggestions by age groups.
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