We all know that physical exercise is essential for keeping kids healthy and happy. But what about mental exercise? People have begun to realise how important maintaining mental health and resilience are for young minds. But is there an exercise routine that provides benefits for growing brains?
We believe that there is, and it’s called ‘reading stories’! Sitting down to read a tale from the latest issue of Storytime can be thought of as the mental equivalent of a healthy run-around in the fresh air. (And of course, the puzzles in the ‘Playbox’ section of the magazine provide additional stimulation.)
Here are five reasons why reading should be part of your kids’ routine…
1. It keeps the mind flexible! Stretching is vital to keep our bodies limber, and reading can provide a similar benefit for the mind. Sitting down and enjoying a story encourages kids to analyse, visualise and use their imagination. They will explore new possibilities, empathise with others, and look at things from different points of view.
2. It develops mental stamina! These days, we are accustomed to getting ‘bite-size’ bits of information from a variety of digital sources – but sitting down and reading a story from beginning to end teaches kids how to focus on one thing and see it through to the end. Concentrating on a task helps us to absorb and process information, which is a key skill in the modern data-rich world!
3. Bulk up their knowledge! Sports people lift weights to build up muscle, but when kids read books, they are building up their vocabularies and knowledge base. The new words, new ideas or new facts that will come in useful at school and in their everyday lives. Plus, think of how impressed people will be when they show off their new knowledge!
4. The more they read, the easier it becomes! Just like with exercise, repeating an activity builds up our capacity to do more of it! Think of it as being like a running training programme. Children can start out small by reading the shorter stories in Storytime, move on to longer tales – and before long, they will be finishing chapter books on their own.
5. It helps them wind down! A ‘warm-down’ after exercise can help us to relax – and reading a tale has a similar effect on children’s’ brains! When we concentrate on what we are reading and lose ourselves in a story, it reduces stress! A recent study has showed that reading text on a printed page for just six minutes can relax our muscles and slow down our heart rate. Great for chilling out before bed – and far better than staring at a flashing screen last thing in the evening!
We hope we have encouraged you to make reading a regular part of your kids’ ‘exercise’ routine. There is one other thing we should mention: just as with exercise, it is easier to get motivated and have fun with reading if you do it with others!
Spending time reading an issue with Storytime with your child creates shared experiences that brings you closer together. Why not set aside some time for it this evening?