Reading habits, afternoon naps helps in acquiring better learning skills in toddlers

Parent Herald February 19, 04:50 pm

Adequate sleep and reading before a child's afternoon nap may improve learning skills in toddlers, reveals a recent study by researchers at the University of Sussex.

Previous studies have stated that reading and talking to little ones helps them to develop better vocabulary skills. The new study indicates that enough sleep, as well as reading before naps, helps children perform better on learning tasks.

The researchers recruited 48 children for the study, half of which took an afternoon nap while the other half did not. The volunteers read either a single story or three different stories to the children, who were exposed to the same set of unfamiliar words regardless.

The children were observed at three different periods - after two hours, 24 hours and a week after the reading exercise. The study showed that the children who read three different stories before the afternoon nap performed 33 percent better compared to the toddlers who didn't sleep, reports Medical Express.

According to the researchers, reading different stories helps to shape better learning abilities in children, but sufficient sleep is also required to complement the practice.

"Overall, all of the children in the study did very well - reading is always good, at any age and any time. But, children who were learning something particularly difficult (new words from several stories) especially benefited from hearing the stories right before sleeping," said Jessica Horst, the lead author of the study, in a press release.

Based on their findings, Horst warns against getting rid of afternoon naps in favor of class work for young students.

"Many preschool children take an afternoon nap, yet classroom naps are increasingly being curtailed and replaced due to curriculum demands," Horst said. "In fact, findings like those from the current study indicate we should be encouraging young children to nap and should take advantage of the period right before they nap for instruction in key academic areas such as word learning and arithmetic."

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