Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Early Literacy Around the House: The Bedroom

For many families, bedtime is the traditional time of day for reading stories, singing songs, and engaging in other quiet early literacy activities together. Here are some suggestions to add to your own evening repertoire.
  • Have a special bedtime poem. When my daughter was still less than six months old, we borrowed Here's a Little Poem from the library. In it were several bedtime poems, and I read them to her every night before bed until the book went back to the library. When it was due, I made sure to memorize my favorite one of the poems - "Silverly" by Dennis Lee - so I could continue to share it with her every night. Not only is poetry a great way to introduce language to young babies, it is also a perfect way to signal that it's time to go to sleep. We have gotten out of the habit of saying the poem as regularly now, as toddler bedtime is so much more boisterous than baby bedtime, but when we do have a moment, we still share that poem. I hope to continue the same practice with baby #2!
  • Say prayers. As Little Miss Muffet has entered toddlerhood, we have started to include prayers as part of her bedtime routine every night. She has several board books (My First Prayers with Mary, My First Bedtime Prayers and A Small Child's Book of Prayers) which contain kid-friendly prayers accompanied by illustrations, and each night after her teeth are brushed, she has the opportunity to choose the one we will say. Like poems, prayers introduce rhythm, rhyme, and vocabulary, and, if you are hoping your child will eventually memorize certain prayers, saying them at bedtime also helps with that learning process. (For more Christian-themed early literacy activities, see my post about Church.)
  • Share a book with a stuffed animal. A stuffed monkey and a baby doll are Little Miss Muffet's two bedtime loveys. Sometimes, we will snuggle with them and read a favorite board book before bed. (For some kids, this activity might be too stimulating to settle them, in which case it is also fun to do first thing in the morning!) 
  • Review the day. As Little Miss Muffet gets ready for bed, I often review with her what she has done that day. I start with the morning, and just list a few of the highlights - where we went, who we played with, what toys we enjoyed, and what we did when Daddy got home. This gives her the language to hopefully express her own thoughts about the day as she becomes more verbal, and it also calms her down so that she is in the right frame of mind for drifting off to sleep.
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