April 22, 2013

benefitsofreadingaloudtochildrenWhy Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

bedtime routine

Part 4 of our Soothing Routine Series

Would you believe me if I told you there was a simple way to help your child transition from a busy day to a restful night, help them perform well academically, entertain and intrigue their mind, all while strengthening the bonds between parent and child? Oh, and it’s entirely free.

Too good to be true? Think again. Reading out loud to your children accomplishes each and every one of these objectives.

It sounds simple. It is simple. The results are astounding. Reading to our children does not just calm down the littles before bedtime, but gives them a head start academically, fosters a relationship between parents and their kids and perhaps most importantly, promotes a life long love of books and reading.

“Reading aloud to children is the single most important activity for building knowledge required for eventual success in reading.” (National Academy of Education’s Commission on Reading, 1985).

By reading to our kids;

– We build better neural pathways (stimulating thought, creativity and imagination),
– We bring knowledge (books are full of new, diverse and unique experiences),
– We help develop language skills (simply by being exposed to more words),
– Promote early literacy skills (a child who is read to will understand the seemingly easy approach of left to right and top to bottom, retell a story, memorize lines, understand context),
– Offer a physical and emotional closeness through a shared experience (tell me your child doesn’t enjoy being cuddled and held while reading a story?),
– And encourage a joy of reading.  “Every time we read to a child, we’re sending a ‘pleasure’ message to the child’s brain. . . you could even call it a commercial, conditioning the child to associate books and print with pleasure.” (Trelease, 1982).


Experts recommend reading aloud to your child as soon as he or she is born, and continuing indefinitely go to these guys. If you don’t do this yet, fortunately, it’s never too late to start. While the investments are few: just your time and a library card, the benefits are many. Always remember that a good book is meant to be enjoyed; not just for the purpose of making good readers, but for enriching lives.

“The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, the book, and the person reading.”
~ Mem Fox

Trelease, Jim. “The Read-Aloud Handbook.” Penguin, 1982.
Fox, Mem. “Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever.” Harcourt, 2001.
Graphic. Read Aloud 15-Minutes www.readaloud.org.

More information:
10 Commandments for Reading Aloud
Read Aloud.org
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Reading Rockets
Bedtime Stories to Read Aloud

kristaguentherKrista is a wife, mother of 2 (+1 Vizsla), Certified Sleep Coach, closeted iron chef, marathoner, e-commerce aficionado and wannabe interior designer. When she’s not helping families go from tired to terrific, she loves reading aloud to her children (and only skips the occasional page).


April 2, 2013

Yoga for SoothingFinding Tranquility with Belly Breathing

Winding down after a long day may be easy at times for adults but I have found it can be a challenge with my little ones if we do not approach it with a gentle bedtime routine.  There are some wonderful yoga techniques that you can use to assist your child in settling in to bed, letting their body and mind calm and drift away to sleep.

In this post I want to introduce you to the “belly breath” or as some children like to say “balloon breathing.”

Have your child lie on their back, gently close their eyes and place their hands over their belly.  Let them settle in here for a moment. Fidgeting will probably happen, and let that naturally occur.  Even as adults on our most rested day we tend to still fidget when the mind and body are first encouraged to relax.  Ensure your child is dressed comfortably and is at a comfortable temperature (ie: do they want blankets or no? socks?)

With a soft voice ask your child the questions below, allowing for pauses and reflection.   Ask your child to try not to talk but to think about them inside their mind.

1. Are any parts of your body moving?

*most likely some part of their body will want to move, fidget, fix their hair, scratch an itch, etc.  Try not to draw attention to it or dwell on any movement. This question is more to get your child to scan their body and begin to understand that if they quiet their mind and focus on one thing (ie: is their body moving) they can begin to control their movements and thoughts.

2. Do you feel your belly and hands rising and falling with each breath?

3. Can you try to make your belly rise up even more?

4. Can you try to make your belly rise up very slowly and rise down very slowly?

5. Imagine your belly like a balloon. Try to blow up your balloon very slowly and very big and then let all the air come out of your balloon.

6. As your belly rises and falls imagine many balloons floating around in the sky.  Notice their colours. Notice if they are flying high or low.

7. Encourage your child to continue filling their belly slowly with the breath as you speak in a soothing and soft voice.  You may find your child is more responsive to this technique at first if you introduce it during the day and/or you participate with them.

May your breath be calm and slow and may many zzzzz’s come your way!



 Amanda Degrace - Little Lotus YogaAmanda DeGrace, President & Founder of Little Lotus Yoga.  When she is not sharing her love for yoga with others she is at home snuggled with her 2 year old boy and 11 month old baby girl.  Follow her on twitter at @amandadegrace or on Facebook.

March 22, 2013


Using good habits for better sleep – Guest Post

Sleep hygiene refers to the routines or habits that encourage a more restful and restorative sleep.  Simply by following good sleep hygiene, you can ensure a better sleep for your child.

Here are some basic sleep hygiene tips to help keep bedtime positive and pleasant:

• Naptimes, bedtime and wake times should be at approximately the same time each day. Even weekends.

• Avoid television, computers, iPads and other electronic devices at least an hour before bed. In addition to being engaging and stimulating, the light emitted from bright screens can have a sleep suppressing effect.

• Have a light snack in the evening. An empty stomach can interfere with sleep as can a large meal.

• Make room in the schedule for bath time before bedtime. A hot bath will raises body temperature, but it is the drop in temperature that may help them feel sleepy.

• Ensure a dark bedroom.  Any light can decrease the amount of melatonin your body naturally produces. Melatonin is a hormone which does many things including regulating your sleep-wake cycles. A low wattage nightlight is ok.

• Use sunlight to set your child’s biological clock. When it’s your child’s time to rise, draw back the blinds, let the sun in and have breakfast in a well lit area of your home.

• Ensure active play, preferable outdoors, is a part of your child’s daily routine.  This has less to do with physically wearing out your child, but more to do with having a clear distinction between wakeful times and sleep times.

These suggestions are relevant for older babies through to adulthood.

Healthy sleep is often about starting out on the right foot. Parents and caregivers can help create a situation for children to be successful in transitioning from busy, wakeful times, to calm, peaceful sleep.

Sweet Dreams,

Dr. Castle

jennDr. Jennifer Castle is a Naturopathic Doctor with a passion for helping people reach their optimal health level. She firmly believes that naturopathic medicine is about becoming an active participant in one’s own health as well as becoming aware of how the body is affected by our thoughts, emotions, physical stressors, food and environment. Jen takes an individualized approach with each of her patients.

Jen enjoys running, weight training, yoga, and commuting on her bike. She has completed several 5k’s, 10k’s, and half marathons and is still trying to improve her fitness level.  Jen loves being a wife and mom and currently her favourite pastime is singing Wheels on the Bus to her daughter.