Why Reading to Children Is So Important

Does your child have a favorite book they like to hear? Do you enjoy sharing your favorite childhood book with your child? That’s a win-win! Reading to children is important for many reasons including cognitive benefits, stronger social, emotional and character development, decreased levels of aggression, and stronger vocabulary. It strengthens your relationship with your kids and—best of all, helps kids develop a lifelong love of reading.

At just several months of age, an infant can listen to your voice, look at pictures and point to objects on pages. Children learn to love the sound of language before they even notice words on a page. Reading to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world. It helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand written words.

Supported Cognitive Development

Reading to a child has been proven to improve cognitive skills and aid in cognitive development. Cognitive development is the emergence of the ability to understand and think, the construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem solving and decision-making, from childhood through adulthood. How a person perceives his world through areas such as information processing, reasoning, language development, attention span and memory are parts of cognitive development. Reading also stimulates brain cell activity. The more an adult reads to a child, the larger their vocabularies grow, and the more they understand about the world around them.

Better Language Skills

Reading exposes children to new speech patterns and vocabularies. They learn to absorb information on how to form a sentence and use words effectively, helping them develop better communication skills. Reading stimulates the part of the brain that allows children to understand the meaning of language and helps build key language, literacy, and social skills. This is especially important when you consider that, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than one in three children start kindergarten without the skills they need to learn to read. Research has shown that kindergarten children who were read to at least three times a week had a significantly greater phonemic awareness than did children who were read to less often.

Prepare for Academic Success

By helping children to grow their vocabulary skills with exposure to new words and listening skills, they are better positioned for academic success. Studies show that students exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do better when their reach their period of formal education. By jumpstarting a child’s reading success, they experience stronger growth in the following areas:

phonemic awareness: being able to hear, identify and play with individual sounds

phonics: being able to connect letters of written language with sounds of spoken language

vocabulary: words needed to communicate effectively

reading comprehension: being able to understand what has been read

fluency (oral reading): ability to read text accurately and quickly

Reading Helps Children with Special Needs

For children with special needs, looking at faces and body language in a story helps them learn about nonverbal cures of communication. More than just being able to read or write, literacy is a key component of learning, development, communication, and a richer life. It’s not only about being understood, but also about being able to comprehend your world. Developmental delays can affect a child’s motors skills, social-emotional development, daily skills, and cognitive abilities. Reading can augment other learning styles—visual, auditory, tactile, and more. A child can look at an apple, bite it, do an apple puzzle, and read about apples. Looking at picture books can enhance a child’s ability to recognize pictures and what is happening in them, to generalize into his environment.

Literacy helps a child learn about herself and her feelings. When a child is stressed or had an afternoon meltdown but can’t tell you how he’s feeling, reading can often be a comfort. For example, a fun rhyming book about emotions, ending with “how do you feel today?” can offer a child a way to share feelings they might not be able to express otherwise, by allowing them to point to a picture in the book relating to their emotions.

Special Bonding with Your Child

One of the most important things you can do to positively influence a child’s development is spend time with them. Reading to your child provides a wonderful opportunity to have a regular, shared event where you look forward to spending time together. Reading provides invaluable nurturing and reassurance to a child, even as a baby. Young babies love to hear familiar voices and reading is a perfect way to foster this connection. A strong parent/caregiver-child relationship can develop from a child knowing you’ll read together at a predictable, scheduled time that fits into daily routines. Reading aloud together gives you and your child something to talk about, which can also be used to discuss real-life experiences.

Increase Concentration and Improved Creativity

According to earlymoments.com, along with reading comprehension comes a stronger, self-discipline, longer attention spans and better memory retention. Additionally, reading can open doors to new worlds for your child as they use their imaginations to explore people, places, and events beyond their own experiences, shared with them through reading aloud.


Take a look at this comprehensive list of 100 Books Every Child Should Hear Before Kindergarten. https://files.constantcontact.com/de0ceffa301/83882bd3-3d51-4f8c-a258-132be9314128.pdf

PBS Kids Read! https://www.pbs.org/parents/read

Life is hectic and parents/caregivers are busy. Taking the time to read with your child on a regular basis sends an important message that reading is worthwhile. Go to the bookstore together and let your child select a new book. Go to the library and borrow several books by different authors. Get excited! Help your child grow into an adult who reads easily and frequently whether for business, knowledge or pleasure.






Developmental Screenings for Children are Important

If you are a parent or guardian of a child, you know the importance of regular doctor visits. In addition to the standard components of a visit, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatricians talk with families about their child’s development at every well-child visit between birth and 3 years old, and conduct developmental screenings at 9, 18 and 30 months of age.

During the first three years of a child’s life, their brain undergoes a remarkable period of development, and these years are considered the most important in a child’s development. These years are an important time for developmental monitoring and screening.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developmental monitoring observes how your child grows and changes over time and whether a child is meeting typical developmental milestones in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving. A milestone checklist such as the one on MKSA’s website is a useful tool for this. All family members can participate in developmental monitoring. If you feel your child is not developing like other children of the same age, speak with your child’s pediatrician. At well-visits, doctors will do developmental monitoring and will ask you questions and will talk and play with your child. Childcare providers can also be a valuable source of information on your child’s development.

Developmental screening is a more in-depth look at your child’s development. Parents will complete a questionnaire about their child and your child may get a brief test. Screenings may be done by a doctor as well as other professionals in healthcare, early childhood education or school settings. Developmental screening is more formal and done less often than monitoring. Your child should be screened if you or your doctor have a concern, but developmental screening is a regular part of some well visits for all children. The AAP recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during well visits at the following ages:  9 months, 18 months, and 30 months. AAP also recommends that all children be screened specifically for autism spectrum disorder during well visits at 18 and 24 months. If your child is at a higher risk for developmental problems due to preterm birth, low birthweight, family history or other factors, your doctor may discuss additional screening.

Parents are sometimes hesitant about developmental screenings, believing that doctors are looking for problems. The opposite is often true. Parents—especially first-time parents—often have many questions about their child’s development. All aspects of a child’s development and life are considered, and doctors often reassure parents that behaviors and development are in fact typical. And if there is a concern, early help does make a difference.

If a developmental screening identifies an area of concern, a formal developmental evaluation may be suggested. An evaluation will identify and diagnose developmental delays and conditions and determine if a child is eligible for early intervention services. A developmental delay means a child has not reached age-appropriate milestones in one or more developmental areas. If the delay is significant enough to meet eligibility criteria, early intervention services are available at no out-of-pocket cost. To learn more about this, click here.

Many families have delayed well-child visits due to the pandemic, resulting in missed screenings. Schedules were altered, and ‘getting back to normal’ should include resuming regular checkups for children. Many milestones can only be measured by doctors in person. Parents can also discuss any concerns they may have about their child, and receive guidance, and resources if necessary. If well-visits were missed, now is the time to reconnect with your child’s doctor and discuss any concerns.

If you have any questions about your child’s development, MKSA is here to answer your questions. Please reach out by email at info@mksallc.org or call 516-731-5588.


Note: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not an attempt to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Always consult your child’s pediatrician with any specific medical questions. MKSA is also available to answer questions about child development. Contact us at 516-731-5588 or www.mksallc.com.



https://cdc.gov Developmental Monitoring and Screening

https://aap.org Developmental Screening

What You Need to Know About CPSE (Committee on Preschool Special Education) Services

In New York State, every school district has a Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE), a program that provides services to children from 3-5 years of age who have or are at risk of having a developmental disability.

If your child received early intervention services as an infant or toddler up to age three and may still need special education, your Service Coordinator will assist you with transition planning and making a referral to the Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) at your local school district. If your preschool-age child (3-5 years old) did not receive early intervention services, but has some delays or lags in development such as difficulty in talking, moving around, thinking or learning, or is facing physical or behavioral challenges, a parent or guardian may make a referral to the chairperson of your school district’s Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) who will assist you in completing the referral process.

In either case, there will be new information and new people entering your life and the life of your child. To help you navigate this new stage, below you will find answers to some of the most common questions about Preschool Services.

What is Preschool Special Education?

The New York State Education Department (SED), Office of Special Education oversees a statewide preschool special education program with school districts, municipalities, approved providers and parents. Evaluations and specially planned individual or group instructional services or programs are provided to eligible children who have a disability that affects their learning. Funding for these special education programs and services is provided by municipalities and the State.

Why is an evaluation necessary?

Preschool evaluations are conducted to determine whether or not a child has a disability and is eligible for preschool special educational and/or related therapeutic services. If a child is found eligible for preschool services, the family acts as a member of the school district’s CPSE to determine appropriate services.

How does the evaluation process work?

When your child is referred to the CPSE (your local school district), you will be given a list of agencies approved by the State Education Department to provide preschool special education evaluations. You will be asked to select one of the approved evaluators, then sign a consent form for your child to be evaluated at no cost to you or your family. A copy of the evaluation report, including a summary of the evaluation, will be provided to you and to other CPSE members. You will be asked to meet with them to discuss the evaluation results.

How will my child receive special education programs and services?

If your child has a disability that may be affecting his or her learning, the CPSE will find your child to be an eligible “preschool student with a disability.” The CPSE will also recommend the program or services to meet your child’s individual needs and where they will be provided.

What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

If your child is an eligible preschool student with a disability, you and the other CPSE members will write an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child that will list the recommended services to be provided, how often, and for how long. The CPSE must consider how to provide the services in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), where your child can learn close to your home with other children of the same age who do not have disabilities.

What programs or services will my child receive?

If approved by the school district, arrangements will be made for your eligible child to receive one or more special education programs and/or services recommended by the CPSE.

Preschool Related Services can include:
– Speech/Language Therapy (helps children with expressive (spoken) and/or receptive (understanding) language delays)
– Feeding Therapy (helps children who have motor difficulty with chewing or swallowing)
– PROMPT (helps a child develop motor control and proper oral muscular movements)
– Physical Therapy (works on gross motor skills such as running, jumping, skipping and hopping)
– Occupational Therapy (works on fine motor skills such as writing and cutting, eye-hand coordination, self-help skills, sensory and motor development)
– Parent Training (teaches parents and caregivers strategies for helping their child achieve success in daily activities)
– Social Work Services (provides information, emotional support and assistance for family members in accessing community resources)
– Counseling (works with a child or members of the family on issues surrounding or impacted by the child’s developmental delay)

Special Education Programs can include:
Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT) – a special education teacher works with a child in a setting recommended by the CPSE.

Special Class in an Integrated Setting (SC/IS) – a class with preschool students with and without disabilities.

Special Class (SC) – a class with only children with disabilities.

How will my child get to special education programs and services?

When the CPSE is planning programs and/or services for your child, they must also consider your child’s transportation needs, including the need for specialized transportation. If recommended by the CPSE, transportation will be provided by the county — once daily from the home or another child care location to the special service or program, and returning once daily from the special service or program to the home or other child care location — up to 50 miles from the child care location. Parents may be reimbursed for transporting their own child if the CPSE recommends transportation. Transportation will not be provided at public expense if the CPSE recommends special education itinerant teacher services or related services in the child’s home or another child care setting which the parent has arranged.

Where do I get more information?

Contact your local school district CPSE Chairperson or Director of Special Education.

For more information about preschool services and how MKSA can help you navigate the process, click here.


Note: The information in this article is for informational purposes only. It is not an attempt to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Always consult your child’s pediatrician with any specific medical questions. MKSA is also available to answer questions about child development. Contact us at 516-731-5588 or www.mksallc.com.

The CPSE program is funded and regulated by the NYS Education Department, county and your local school district for children 3-5. Services are provided at no direct cost to families for children who meet eligibility guidelines.

Answers to 5 Common Speech and Language Concerns in Children

One of the most common concerns among parents and caregivers of young children is speech and language development. This post’s contributing author is Betty Aboff, an MKSA Speech-Language Pathologist with 25 years’ experience in evaluating and providing therapy for children.

Is your child developing speech and language skills like other children? Is your child at age level? Children develop these skills at different ages, and there is a wide range of normal development. Let’s learn more about children’s speech milestones and when one should be concerned.

1. Why can’t my 2-1/2-year-old child say “s” and “th” sounds?
A child at age 2½ is only expected to be approximately 65-70% intelligible when speaking. We are not concerned with difficulties in articulation (the production of certain sounds) until a child is at least 3 years old unless it’s severe. Even at age 3, it depends upon which sounds the child is having difficulty with. At age 3, a child should be able to say sounds produced using his lips, including “b,” “p,” “m,” and the tongue, including “t,” “d,” and “n.” At age 4, a child should say the “r” sound and “back sounds” such as “k,” and “g”. At age 4 ½, the “s,” “sh,” and “ch” sounds should be produced. At age 6-7 a child should say “later sounds” including: “v,” “th,” “j,” “z” and blends (2 consonants together).

2. Why does my 3-1/2-year-old child stutter a lot?
Stuttering among children ages 2½-5, when they are still learning how to speak, is very common and is not a cause for concern. This is called “developmental dysfluency,” which appears in about 25% of all children at that stage and will usually disappear if left alone over time. As therapists we don’t address it and we discourage parents from telling their child to “slow down” or “think about what you want to say.” We don’t want to call attention to the dysfluencies. Never finish a child’s sentences for him. Act as if you have plenty of time to hear what your child has to say. Model slower speech for your child. When at home, insert extra pauses, simplify your own language and maintain normal eye contact with your child. Reassure your child that talking can sometimes be hard for everyone. If your child develops what are called “secondary characteristics” such as eye-blinking, foot stamping or facial grimaces, or if the stuttering gets worse, the dysfluencies should be addressed by a speech therapist.

3. Why does my 2-year-old child only say a few words?
Normal speech and language development in children can proceed at very different rates. It is common for many 2-year-olds to have a 40-50 word vocabulary and to be just starting to put 2 words together. Other children develop language skills faster, and can manage to conduct a conversation at that age. However, if a 2-year-old child only has a few words, isn’t imitating words, and is having trouble understanding language and commands addressed to him I would suggest having the child’s hearing tested, and a speech and language evaluation is recommended.

4. Why must my 4-year-old child be told something multiple times before he follows directions? He also has trouble with answering questions and repeats what you ask rather than giving you a response.
If he has not been already, your child should be tested for auditory processing (the ability to understand spoken language) difficulties as part of a complete audiological evaluation, to discover if the source of the difficulty is behavioral, processing or a combination of both. In the meantime, before giving your child directions, make sure you have gained his complete attention. Speak slowly and clearly, but don’t over-exaggerate your speech. Your directions should be simple and brief. Try to use visual aids such as pictures or actual objects and written instructions to supplement your spoken words. While speaking to your child, emphasize key words, and ask him to repeat your instructions back to you to make sure that he understood what you told him. Next year in Kindergarten he will be expected to follow directions and answer questions. If he has auditory processing difficulties, it will become more apparent in the classroom setting. This is the time to work try to give him compensatory strategies in order to function better in the classroom setting.

5. I have three children under the age of 5. Can you give me tips for helping them develop their language skills?
Below are some recommended techniques:
Expansion: Expand what your child says. If your child says “mommy,” you say, “Where is mommy’s car?”
Modeling: Provide a good model for the child to follow. If your child says, “baby hurt,” you say, “put a band-aid on it.”
Parallel talk: Comment on the actions of yourself or your child, with the hope that your child will begin to do the same.
Imitation: Have your child imitate your words after you, to hopefully begin to use them spontaneously.
Association: When a child comes across a new experience or word, supply additional vocabulary words. If your child says “car,” you say, “It is a car and it has wheels like daddy’s car.”
Repetition: Repeat the same new words over again in front of your child in many different contexts; eventually your child will begin to use the words himself.

Try these techniques at home and keep praising your child each time he tries to use a new word. Encourage him to want to learn new words and use them.

As with any concerns, speak with your child’s pediatrician first. MKSA is always available to answer questions and make appropriate referrals. For more information about MKSA’s services including speech-language therapy, click here.

10 Tips to Encourage Your Child’s Speech and Language Development

One of the most common concerns among parents and caregivers of young children is speech and language development. This post’s contributing author is Betty Aboff, an MKSA Speech-Language Pathologist with 25 years’ experience in evaluating and providing therapy for children.

Many children begin understanding language and speaking their first words at their expected milestones. However, many children do not speak or speak less than they should for their age. Below are language stimulation techniques recommended to help you facilitate and expand your child’s understanding of language and speech skills.

  1. PlayThe importance of play cannot be emphasized enough. Children love to play with all types of toys and play various games. Try to sit at your child’s level while interacting and playing with toys; sit on the floor or at a small table and chairs. You can model the appropriate way to use the toys presented or do hand over hand/show the child how to explore the toy appropriately through trial and error. Always remember to laugh, smile, be bubbly and use an animated voice.
  2. Talk The importance of being vocal during your interactions with your child is very important! Talk about the here and now, and speak slowly. If the child is speaking in 2-word combinations, use 2-3 word sentences when responding. Talk about everyday events and routines such as getting dressed and eating dinner. Use “self-talk” (what you are doing while child is watching)–for example, “Mommy’s eating now.” Comment on actions of the child (“parallel talk”-what the child is playing with, seeing, or doing), i.e. “Jeremy is eating,” labeling common objects (i.e. “cup”), and describing objects throughout your play interactions and during everyday activities. Language and new vocabulary is best learned while doing something.
  3. Modeling – Provide a good model for your child to follow. For example if your child says: “baby hurt,” you say “put a Band-Aid on it.” Model words for your child, especially for their wants and needs. Modeling helps the child increase their understanding and use of words. Try to pair the words you say with a visual cue such as a picture or actual object. Speak slowly; use clear, simple and consistent speech. Speaking slowly will make it easier for your child to understand what you said to him/her. Make sure to provide pauses/time for the child to respond to what you are saying.
  4. Don’t use language to anticipate your child’s needs or desires – Give your child the chance to make his needs known. Always offer choices before giving your child what he/she wants, and model the vocabulary at least 3-5 times, i.e. “Do you want a ball or the car?”  The child will learn that he/she must use language to get what he wants, and can’t simply grunt or point.
  5. Use Positive Reinforcement – Always make your child feel good about speaking. Respond quickly to your child’s efforts at speaking, and reward the attempt at communicating to you with verbal praise. Be specific, i.e. “good talking,” “good for you that you said ___,” or use a gesture such as a high five. Encourage and praise all verbal and non-verbal attempts (whether or not they are perfect) the child is using to communicate his needs to you.
  6. Expansion – Expand what the child says; if the child says “car,” you say “blue car.” Generally, add one or two words to what the child has said to you, i.e. “baby” and you say “baby sleep” or “baby eat cookie.”
  7. Imitation – Begin with imitating actions, animal sounds, environmental sounds and nonsense syllables, and progress to syllables and words. A child usually will imitate a word before he can say it on his own spontaneously.
  8. Follow the Child’s Lead – Talk about what interests the child. Use a child’s choice of toy to engage him/her in play; as he is interested in the toy, he will be more likely to listen to the language being modeled by the parent while playing with the toy.
  9. Be an Active Listener – Listen to your child. Show that you are listening to what he/she has to say. This will show the child that his/her message is important to you! Encourage listening activities; a child has to learn to listen before he can learn how to speak.
  10. Repetition – Repeating the label for objects or actions helps the child learn the new word so he can incorporate it in his vocabulary, making the child feel comfortable with it so he will begin to use it.

Always remember to maintain good eye contact! A child wants to talk to you when you are listening, smiling, interested, and asking questions. Give the child all the time he needs to express himself.  EVERY ACTIVITY CAN BE A LANGUAGE LEARNING EXPERIENCE!