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Our Blog: July 5, 2011

Little Bodies and Brains: Working Together to Make Reading FUN

By Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Learning to read is a huge milestone for your child, making it possible to learn about any subject under the sun.  And so we dutifully read, read, read to our kids, hoping that one day the skill will “click”.

I’ve got a great shortcut. Summer’s the time for fun and games, so you can sneak in a ton of learning — that is, if you understand a little-known fact about child development.

Your child has a unique sensory style — we all do. Think of all the senses and how your child responds to each one. Understanding your child’s sensory style will help you create fun lessons that are more likely to maximize learning. One of my kids never forgets a song, and so we sing important lessons with her. Another one hates noise, but loves pictures and visual learning — and so we do a lot of drawing and play-acting with him.

Once you understand your child’s sensory style, the next step is to boost reading time with these fun tips!

  • Get scheduled. Time it right — kids learn better after they get their wiggles out. Take them to the beach or the park early in the day. They’ll be able to settle down to read better later.
  • Get outside. Nature has sensory stimulation to the max. Look for characters from your favorite books in the clouds. Make sandcastles in your child’s name. “Water paint” letters on the sidewalk. Outside learning really makes an impact!
  • Get messy. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with shaving cream. Have the kids practice drawing shapes, letters, and numbers in the cool goop. Extra points for making practice fun!
  • Get props. When we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I have strawberries, plums or apples handy for munching when we get to the fruit page. A multisensory boost strengthens learning.
  • Get busy. Act out stories as you read them. My kids love to play out the action in Good Night, Gorilla. Using the body helps strengthen memory and comprehension.

Combining sensory learning with reading will create powerful memories that will last a lifetime. Have fun!

What are YOUR ideas for using the senses to boost summer reading? Please share them with us here:

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A licensed child psychologist, Dr. Heather partners Group provides valuable, and always humorous, insights on our blog.

About the Author

Dr. Heather Wittenberg

Dr. Wittenberg is a psychologist specializing in the development of babies, toddlers, preschoolers — and parents. She offers no-hype, practical parenting advice on her blog BabyShrink — rooted in science, and road tested in her own home as the mother of four young children. She has helped thousands of parents over the years and knows that the most common problems with young children — sleep, feeding, potty training and behavior — can be the most difficult ones to solve.