The Benefit of Face to Face Reading with Your Infant or Toddler
We love some cuddles while reading with a little one curled up on your lap, but have you ever tried face-to-face reading with your infant or toddler? The developmental benefits of face-to-face interactions are why speech pathologists make sure to use this important strategy during therapy sessions. Face-to-face interactions are also one of the first activities taught during parent training programs, such as the Hanen Program, and for good reason!
So What are the Benefits of Face-to-Face Reading?
Being face-to-face with your child while reading helps them learn to focus on the same thing as you. The animation in your face and the tone of your voice while you look at the book helps to increase young children’s attention to the activity. For pre-verbal children, they are getting a chance to see communication that develops before words, such as facial expressions and gestures. Children who are starting to verbally communicate benefit from seeing how you say different sounds and words. Your child will know that you are paying attention and are interested in what they have to “say”.
Reading face-to-face not only helps your child, but it helps you as a parent too! When you read with your child facing you, you can get a better idea of what your child is drawn to in the book. This will help clue you in to what your child is interested in. Observe your child’s facial expressions while reading to help you determine when to stop, when to change activities, and when to keep playing.
How to Read Face-to-Face
Reading face-to-face is exactly what it sounds like! Get on your child’s physical level, whether it be laying on the floor, sitting in small chairs, or lifting them up to you. If your child likes to move around, try to stay within their line of sight and move as your child moves to maintain eye contact. When your child can see your face and how you respond it helps them to associate meaning with those interactions. For example, a child might not know what “Uh oh!” means at first. But if they can see your face while you say “Uh oh!” while reading and looking at a picture together, they are more likely to understand.
Children are born with the ability to learn speech and language, but they gain the skills of language by listening to and practicing the language around them. The more you get face-to-face with your child, the more opportunities they will have to learn and practice communicating!