The team at learning toy company Click-A-Brick applauds a new study by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that has found reading to young children stimulates language processing development in their brains, saying it shows the importance of this particular child-parent interaction for kids.
Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study, performed by Dr. John S. Hutton and colleagues, found that reading exposure in children aged three to five years old stimulated neural activity in the portion of the brain involved with acoustic, phonological and semantic language processing.
Click-A-Brick Co-Founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza say they appreciate findings like the ones from this study, as they are a good reminder to parents to be diligent in reading and interacting with their kids.
“Reading to children is such a simple act, but it obviously has huge benefits,” Smith said. “In fact, last year the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement that recommended children be read to at home and at least through their kindergarten years, so the benefits are well known. What we recommend for kids who have Click-A-Brick sets is that parents read to their children and then use the sets to build the things they’ve read about. Any books about animals, birds, reptiles and dinosaurs go really well with the corresponding Click-A-Brick sets for extra stimulation and interaction.”
The learning toy entrepreneurs also point to comments that British politician Tristram Hunt made recently as anecdotal evidence that parent/child interaction at an early stage is important for children later in life when they begin studying. Hunt is the Shadow Education Secretary in the United Kingdom’s government and recently said that many elementary school teachers have told him that children are increasingly experiencing developmental delays in their language skills and the teachers blame this on parents interacting with their mobile phones more while subsequently interacting with their children less.
“Most likely, parents don’t understand the cumulative impact on scrolling down their smartphone rather than engaging with their six-month-old,” Hunt told The Daily Telegraph. “Academics are all too aware of how crucial the birth to five age bracket is for the intellectual and emotional development of children. Not nearly enough parents are. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales might be less interesting than Instagram, but a child’s long-term success can depend on them.”
Smith and de Gorostiza say they don’t expect parents to completely drop their phones and tablets in favor of reading and talking to their children all the time, but Hunt’s comments illustrate how important it is to find a balance between screen time and kid time for parents.
“We often hear about how we need to limit children’s time with screens, but we also have to remember how important it is to limit our own screen time, too,” de Gorostiza said. “Although smartphones have been around for a while now, it seems like we’re still going through a transition phase with having them in our lives and we’re all still trying to figure out the appropriate amount of time to be using them versus interacting with the world around us. When I see comments like Mr. Hunt’s it makes me think we all, as a society, need to pull back a little and readjust our focus, so to speak, so it’s more on our kids and less on the screens in our hands.”
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