Mommy, Reading makes my brain STRONG!

Ty came up to me the other day…..”Mommy, Reading makes my brain STRONG!”

Boy, was I ever proud! :)  We talk a lot about how TV makes your brain soggy. and reading makes your brain strong.  I guess he IS listening!  There is nothing I love more than to see my children sitting quietly with their noses in a book. 

 OR, better yet, reading to each other!     My favorite, is all 4 snuggled in my lap (or around my lap, my leg-to-child ratio is off), with a huge stack of books next to us.  Sadly, that has been occurring less lately, due to new baby, and life in general, but I am bound and determined to get that set reading time back!

     Once a month, we go to the public library, and boy, do the kids get excited about that!  I know the days following our library trip will be great, because they will spend a lot of their time reading their new books!  We get a big stack of books for the 2 middles, about 15-20.  Nothing inappropriate or gross, and nothing with more than a small paragraph per page.  On average, they say to watch for books with 1 line per page, per year.  For example: 2 year old=roughly 2 lines per page. 

 

 Tylan likes reading books by the truck full!  :)  

   Destiny is so proud to get to go to the “big girl section” and pick out some chapter books.  She particularly likes Junie B. Jones, Ramona, the Elizabeth Gale Christian mystery series and anything to do with horses.  Last month, she was very interested in Helen Keller, so she checked out a few library books about her. As the oldest, Destiny is required to read for 1 hour on Saturday and 1 on Sunday while the other children nap.  This gives me the break and quiet time I am used to having during the school week, and gives her some resting time without making her feel like a baby that has to nap.  This will be a requirement of each of our children as they outgrown their naps!  

   When she was a baby, and the only child (its hard to remember those days!) I was constantly nursing during the day, and would get bored, so I’d flip on the tv.  Eventually, I had a show I watched per nursing, like Starting Over for the 1:00 feeding, Oprah for the 4:00 etc.  But, as she got older and her schedule changed, my tv habits didn’t change.  I was still wanting to catch “my shows”.  Reality hit when she got old enough to stop playing on her blanket on the floor, and start staring at the TV instead.  That was my “Ah-ha” moment, and I shut it off for good! I wasn’t going to have my baby’s brain overstimulated by the flashing screen and being exposed to that junk!  I thought it’d be hard, but soon, it was easy to leave it off all day.  I started getting Christian fiction from the library and reading during nap time.  I loved it!  It got to the place where I was reading about 28 books a month because that’s how I chose to spend my quiet time and evenings after the kids went down. Now granted, this was all before 4 kids! I have had to stop getting any books when we go to the library, because with 4 little Ferguson’s, where would I find the time?  However, I know it’s just for a season, and I will get back to it again.  I love disappearing into a good book during those down times! For now, Dale and I are exhausted enough by the end of the day, that you’ll find us lying semiconscious on the love seat staring at the TV once the kids are asleep.  lol :)

    Don’t get me wrong, TV has its place. Heck, it’s the source of our weekend “date night”, when we rent a movie.  I just find it irritating and unproductive to have it on during the day.  This is why we don’t have cable.  I think it’d be too hard to keep those home improvement, fashion and baby shows off! Plus, as soon as the TV comes on, my kids are drawn to it like bugs to a light.  Why is that?  Even if it’s the most boring show on earth or a COMMERCIAL even, and they will stop and stare with their mouths open.  Ooo, I hate it! I tell them I can hear their brains getting soggy! 

    As a mom, I think its part of our job description to stop taking the easy route of flipping on the tv, and start promote reading to our children.  If we don’t, who will????  It’s my fervent prayer that my children will love to read.  I think it will make their school days so much more enjoyable, and promote good habits for when they have their own families.  I look forward to the day when all of my kids are readers and on some snowy, lazy, Saturday afternoon, our kids can be found in various locations of the house, with their noses in their book.  (Dale hates to read, so maybe we’d let him watch TV?) lol :) 

   According to this article, reading helps promote family relationships.  It also helps with your child’s attention span.  If they are constantly being entertained by flashing media and toys, how will they ever be satisfied with a book with no lights or moving parts? Or blocks that just stack? Or know what to do with that box of dress up clothes? 

  Be aware of your child’s exposure to this form of media and limit it! If drastic measures need to be taken, unplug the tv for a week (or two).  Watch their imaginations come to life!

  The following tips and suggestions will help you get started on your commitment to limit tv and get your family on that important road to reading with your child:

  • Be an example, let your child see you reading.
  • Spend time together, reading should be fun. Don’t push too hard, but stick to your guns too! Even 20 minutes a day will help for a lifetime.
  • Let your child read to you. Start out simple with easy-to-read books, and encourage your child to try new words.
  • Set aside daily reading times, like between lunch and naps. Or right before bed. You and your child can end your day by reading quietly together.  This is a good opportunity to start introducing them to daily Bible reading and quiet time with the Lord.
  • Tired of “baby books”?  Even young children can grasp chapter books. Start a gender neutral series like Little House on the Prairie, and read a chapter each night before Bible story time.  My mom did this for me when I was 2 years old.  And later on, as a 7-year-old,  I have such fond memories of her sitting in the hallway between my room and my little brother’s, reading out loud from a chapter book.  Oh, how we’d BEG her for just one more chapter!  :)

   Our kids are entitled to 1 hour of TV a day. Period.  (In fact, once the kids are in school, they get none until the weekend.)  This hour may be spent on a mom approved tv show, or an educational computer game.  Once that time is up, the tv/computer goes off.  If the child fails to shut the tv or computer off after the 1 hour mark, they are grounded from the it the next day. It’s been very effective, and even 2-year-old Avery knows to get the remote and shut the tv off when the words come up! 

  Feel like you are too busy to read to your kids?  Even just reading a book or two while they are eating lunch can make a life long difference.  Is it too easy to use the TV as a way to buy yourself time?   “Go watch tv until dinner is ready.”  Be prepared, for these moments….for example, I give my kids assignments:  “Go outside and run around the circle drive 3 times before coming back in.” or “Starting in my room, run through each room of the house and touch something red.” Then orange, then yellow etc.   Or, if you want them close by, open the doors to your Tupperware cupboard, hand them a spoon or two to stir with, and watch the fun begin!

  Another back up plan we have for crazy moments are books on CD.  They are PERFECT for this kind of “mommy is going crazy and everything is hectic” scenario.  We have a Disney toddler series that are CD’s and corresponding board books.  Another one we have that Ty really enjoys is the “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”, “If You Give A Moose A Muffin”, and, “If You Give A Pig A Pancake” books on CD, with fun songs between each story.  “The Emperors Nightingale” is a story CD (no book) for Destiny’s age range, it was Grandma Eileen’s favorite record when she was a kid.  There are some great Adventures in Odyssey story CD’s from Focus on the Family too!  It’s so good for our kids to just HEAR the story and picture it for themselves in their minds.

 Go to Focus on the Family’s website for Adventures in Odyssey, or  go to amazon and shop around for kids books on CD.  Some of them are pricey, but we figure it’s worth it so that tv isn’t the only “go to” option.

  You know the best part about limiting tv time and making it a privilege rather than the norm?  When I am really needing them to use some tv time, like during a road trip, or if I am sick or they are sick, I can put on a movie for my kids, and they will not budge from that couch until it is over.  

Below are some shocking statistics on reading and tv watching:

It is estimated that more than $2 billion is spent each year on students who repeat a grade because they have reading problems. 

66% of Americans eat dinner while watching tv.

44 million adults in the U.S. can’t read well enough to read a simple story to a child. 

Minutes per week parents spend in meaningful conversation with their kids: 3.5

Over one million children drop out of school each year, costing the nation over $240 billion in lost earnings, forgone tax revenues, and expenditures for social services.

Percentage of daycare that use tv during a typical day: 70%

60 percent of America’s prison inmates are illiterate and 85% of all juvenile offenders have reading problems. 

Average hours in school, 900.  Hours per year your average youth spends watching tv: 1500

Out-of-school reading habits of students has shown that even 15 minutes a day of independent reading can expose students to more than a million words of text in a year. 

Number of murders your child sees on tv by the time they finish elementary school: 8,000

In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.

 Average violent acts your child sees on tv by the time they are 18:  200,000

Percentage of 4-6 years olds, who when asked to choose between tv time and spending time with their father, prefered tv time: 54%

   Sickening, isn’t it?  Well, this has gotten long enough, I am stepping off my soap box now.  Can you tell I am passionate about this issue?  Is this long enough that it counts as your reading for today?! lol :)

Have a fantastic weekend! 

~T :)

My future reader…