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Listening to audiobooks with your children can help strengthen your relationship

Listening to audiobooks with your children and taking an interest in book content together can help show them that both they and the book are important to spend time with, says special educator Herdis Palsdottir.

- We often think that children need to have lots of experiences and visit an abundance of parks - but the most important thing is actually that the adult is present, mentally and physically, says Herdis Palsdottir. She is a specialist educator, EQ therapist, and founder of the EQ Institute, which offers therapies and training in relational competence and emotional intelligence (EQ). She has also previously participated in research projects and written a number of professional books on how to develop good reading and writing skills in children.

- Research and experience shows that the most important thing for children is not what they do with us adults, but their happiness when they are with us.

Make time for each other

Instead of filling your holidays and free time with activities, it might be nice to make room to relax and show the kids that you would like to spend time with them, Palsdottir thinks, suggesting that listening to an audiobook together might be just what you need.

- It is so important that reading doesn’t become another thing that we use to preoccupy the children with, but rather, it is something adults can be involved in too. I know, for example, a mother with sons of 8 and 6 years who have a regular evening ritual of brushing their teeth together, and then she lays in bed with the children and listens to an audiobook with them. It is a personal choice and shows the children that they are also important, Palsdottir believes.

- And as important as it is to listen, it’s equally as important that the adult and the child talk together about what they have heard, and that they not only talk to but also with the child, emphasizes the special educator.

Children know that adults spend time on what they like. The bottom line is: if an adult spends time on books, then books are important. And if that adult spends time reading with me (the child), then I’m important too, she reasoned.

Be a reading role model

As adult readers, most of us know that in order to get stuck into a book; to get lost in the action; to live with the characters; we need to set aside time and take a break from everyday life. It’s a priority that Palsdottir believes is important we show our children:

- Children learn from watching what their parents do. If I show that I'm looking forward to sitting down with my book, then I will be a good role model for the kids. And if I spend 10 minutes every day on a book and talk to the kids about it, then I tell the child: you are important to me and I love books. But it requires me to be present both mentally and physically; that I actually listen and do not run off and plan dinner tomorrow.

It's good to talk together during listening time:

  • It’s good for toddlers and young children to hear the same story several times, because they can better understand words and the meanings of the words too.
  • The first time young children hear the same story they listen to hear the events in the story unfold.
  • After listening to the same story 3-4 times, children become concerned with bringing in certain words that they anticipate. They practice hypothesis thinking, and when they confirm that their hypothesis about the word is correct, they begin to use the word correctly.
  • You can explore and practice saying words out loud with the children and help develop their language skills, which can encourage a love of reading.
  • Be aware that we all see different images in our heads when we hear something. Therefore, it is fun for the kids that you also share what you see. For example, you could say, “Now I want you to close your eyes. I want to hear what pictures you see in your head and then I can share what I see." This can help children to become more aware of what they hear and it is also very language-stimulating.

Source: Herdis Palsdottir

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