For the past four years, since The Boy was six months old, we've had the same bedtime routine every night; no electronic devices or television from 5.30p.m. onwards, dinner, play a calming game, upstairs for a bath (every alternate night), pyjamas, first book, brush teeth, kisses and cuddles good night from the adult not doing bedtime, second book, lights out.
I feel very strongly that children's minds need to 'wind down' at the end of the day to enable them to sleep peacefully, and for me that means no stimulation from a television or a mobile device. Setting a peaceful tone and giving children the opportunity to make sense of their days and the world in which they live.
As a baby, the consistency of our bedtime routine sent The Boy silent signals about what the time of day was and what was going to happen. As a school-aged child the routine is just as important, but for very different reasons.
Reading good quality fiction is an essential tool for many reasons; not only is it a bonding experience between the child and the adult, but it also helps develop the child's imagination and their vocabulary. The Boy is an early stage reader who is progressing really well with the amount of words that he is beginning to recognise by sight. Children learn through modelling and exploration; seeing an adult decode words, using expression and fluency, recognising punctuation and using it appropriately, are all important skills that children pick up from story time. Doing all of this at bedtime enables the child time to process what they've just witnessed.
It also sends them off the land of nod with lots of lovely ideas for dreams!
According to a survey of 35,000 8 – 16 year olds by The National Literacy Trust, only 28% of children read daily in 2012. This genuinely shocks me, although I can see how the busy lifestyle of working parents makes it difficult to fit in, I don't feel that it is impossible; surely bedtime reading is the perfect time to read together? Both Mr. TBaM and I love reading and have heaving bookshelves, we can't imagine The Boy not wanting to do the same!
To help us with our bedtime routine of nurturing a love of reading, Marks and Spencer sent us a wonderful selection of books along with some warm, brushed cotton pyjamas (in a lovely presentation box complete with a cuddly teddy).
The Boy has really taken to the First Readers books which are designed to be read with an adult (one page an adult, one page a child) and thoroughly enjoys trying to read some of the words on 'our' pages. And as for the pyjamas? How cute and cosy does he look?
I was sent the pyjamas and books to help support this reading and writing project with The Boy, my thoughts and opinions are my own.