There are plenty of reasons why older children still need a bedtime story.
Some have to do with sleep, while others to do with their educational achievements and laying the foundation for a life-long love of books. But the consensus is simple – keep reading to your children even after they can read on their own. Here’s why.
Setting a Sleep Routine
Older children still need ten to eleven hours of sleep per night.
The trouble is that school work, time with friends, playing, TV and electronics can get in the way. We’re used to thinking of adults as being pressed for time, but even our 9s and 10s are trying to fit a lot into their days – and a full night’s sleep is often the casualty.
Unfortunately even small amounts of sleep deprivation can lead to big problems. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep results in lost productivity, emotional issues, and even accidents – sometimes serious ones.
A daily routine you stick to every day, even at the weekends, can go a long way towards having productive days and getting your child ready for sleep at night.
Evenings should be set up in such a way that they signal the lead-up to sleep.
A good dinner, homework or other chores, and a small amount of TV or gaming will let them know the end of the day is near. However, they shouldn’t watch or do anything over-exciting for at least an hour before bedtime. Too much excitement for children just before bed tends to mean children who don’t settle down to sleep easily and don’t have a restful sleep when they do.
What should they do in that hour?
Having a bath or shower, getting into sleepwear, brushing one’s teeth – these are all signals for your child that sleep is drawing near.
But the biggest lure of getting in bed might actually be the bedtime story.
Reading a bedtime story is a shared activity that can create close family bonds. In addition, stories are ingrained in our culture. We share them all the time in different forms, such as movies and TV.
However, books will also help your child improve their reading skills, add to their vocabulary, and capture their imagination. They can learn about history, art, nature, science and more through the books you and they choose.
Right now, we’re reading through The Chronicles of Narnia – at a chapter a night, we’ll have bedtime stories for months. Some others that we’ve enjoyed are The Adventures of Pinocchio, The Story of Dr. Doolittle, and Mary Poppins. The language is rich and the children don’t understand every word and idea, but they still love the stories.
Studies show that parents who read to their children regularly are making a significant impact on their child’s educational achievements.
Every subject, even math, relies on your child having good reading and comprehension skills.
Even ten minutes of reading six nights a week can add up to an extra hour of teaching and learning. Just think what you would have to pay a tutor per hour these days, and you can see the time spent reading can be well worth it.
A Love of Books and Learning
One study argues that parents should continue reading to children up to the age of 11!
Other studies have shown that 66% of six-year olds who were read to expressed a love of books, but the same group of children one year later whose parents had stopped reading to them showed that only 44% expressed a love of books. I can honestly say that Aonghus, at 10, enjoys bedtime stories as much as the younger children.
In addition to the educational boost, bedtime stories are a great way to lull your child to sleep, and to share experiences and quiet moments with each other without being on the go all the time.
Chances are children won’t remember every toy you gave them or every video game they played, but they will remember you reading to them every night.0