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Old 2nd July 2009, 03:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Reading bedtime stories to children 'less effective than conversation'

Reading bedtime stories to children 'less effective than conversation'

Reading children bedtime stories may not be as effective in helping them to learn language as talking to them before they go to sleep, according to new research.

Published: 7:42AM BST 01 Jul 2009



Only three per cent of fathers now find the time to read to the kids compared to 89 per cent of mothers Photo: GETTY

Engaging them in basic conversation could be up to six times more effective than reading to them, US health experts believe.

Even if the baby or toddler cannot form words, their primitive responses to a conversation helps develop their language skills, they said.

What the study calls “adult monologueing” - in other words, grown ups talking at children - had a “weak” impact on language development, said the study.

Letting babies watch television has virtually no impact, good or bad, on this development between the ages of zero to four years old, it added.

Parents have been reading fairytales and other stories to babies for generations, often just to help them sleep or to form a bond between them.

It is also recommended by child health experts around the world as a good way to develop language.

Competitive parents wanting to give their children as many academic advantages as possible often carefully choose books to help the babies learn to talk or read faster.

Yet this may have little effect compared to the very simple exercise of a one-on-one conversations between the adult and child, said the US university study.

The research by Dr Frederick Zimmerman and colleagues from the UCLA School of Public Health, California is to be published in the journal Pediatrics.

“Pediatricians and others have encouraged parents to provide language input through reading, storytelling and simple narration of daily events," Dr Zimmerman said.

“Although sound advice, this form of input may not place enough emphasis on children’s role in language-based exchanges and the importance of getting children to speak as much as possible.”

The researchers looked at 275 families with children up to the age of four and measured their exposure to speech from adults, other children and television.

The children were later tested for their "language score" to see how well they could talk and converse themselves, even at such early ages.

Children exposed to conversations scored six times as high as those who were being read to.

They had a greater depth and range of vocabulary and made fewer mistakes - possibly because conversations give adults the chance to correct common grammatical errors.

Those who mainly listened, whether to stories or adult conversations around them, showed some improvement but it was described as “weak.”

Those who were sat in front of the television showed no improvement but also, despite some commonly held beliefs, showed no negative effects on their language either.

“What’s new here is the finding that the effect of adult-child conversations was roughly six times as potent at fostering good language development as adult speech input alone," Dr Zimmerman said.

The average toddler is exposed to 13,000 words spoken directly at them during an average day and 400 "conversations" with adults, the study found.

Parents should make more use of these opportunities, it recommended, whether it is correcting mistakes in their child’s speech or using it as a chance to introduce new words.

“It is not enough to speak to children. Parents should also engage them in conversation," Dr Zimmerman added.

“Kids love to hear you speak, but they thrive on trying speech out for themselves. Give them a chance to say what’s on their minds, even if it’s ’goo goo gah.’”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/news...versation.html

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Old 4th July 2009, 01:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Reading bedtime stories to children 'less effective than conversation'

oh... but i love it when my mum do that when im young ^-^

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