A 2019 article in the Ohio State News states that children entering kindergarten having been read to by their parents are exposed to anywhere between 290 000 and 1.4 million more words than children who are not. This is according to a developmental and behavioral pediatric study being conducted. The study can be found here.
The kids’ exposure to more words means they are better prepared for learning in kindergarten. And they will find it easier and faster to pick up learning and reading skills than their peers.
Which is just one of the important reasons why it is vital to establish a love for consistent reading in your child’s life.
What do we mean by a love for consistent reading?
It is crucial that children read every day. Not just a few words here or there, but a dedicated time set aside for reading age-appropriate books.
And it cannot be forced either. It is important for Children to genuinely love and look forward to their reading time.
Why it is Important
Reading plays a crucial role in a child’s development, as most of the learning they receive throughout their young lives is through books. And the more proficient they are at reading, the easier it will be for them to learn.
Here are some of the additional reading benefits that are important for a child’s development:
- Reading improves memory, concentration and provides exercise for the brain
- As a child is reading a story, they are creating mental movies and pictures inside their head to better understand and process the story. Which is an excellent way of enhancing their imagination.
- Reading also broadens a child’s horizon. Rather than being restricted to their city or state, a child can now visit faraway lands, meet new people, and experience different events through the various books they read.
- Consistent reading also boosts a child’s ability to think critically. So rather than merely reading well, a child will have an easier time comprehending what they are reading and be able to analyze it too.
- Reading is one of the best ways of developing a child’s vocabulary and language skills. This includes the number of words they can use and understand, their pronunciation of words, how effectively they can communicate with others, and how well-spoken they are.
- Consistent readers are generally more confident than their peers. Reading well is a huge confidence boost for every child. Whereas poor readers dread reading out aloud, leading to shyness and lower self-confidence.
- Studies show, early readers and children who are exposed to reading before they reach preschool are more likely to excel in all areas of their formal education and have a distinct advantage in their academic pursuits.
These reasons show just how essential reading is for all children. Now let’s look at how reading is especially beneficial for children of single parents.
Why reading is especially important for single-parent children
There are many excellent books with stories of single-parent kids and their experiences. When reading these stories, single-parent children can easily associate with the characters and their relatable stories. This helps them tremendously in dealing with their emotions and overcoming the unique obstacles and challenges they face every day. And it goes a long way in assisting them to communicate these feelings to their parent.
Due to the positive nature of these books, they are also a great way of showing kids that they are always loved, even when it is not expressly mentioned by their parents often enough.
This is not limited to books only dealing with single-parent households.
Age-appropriate books are full of colorful stories that take children on wonderful adventures. These books provide an excellent escape for children of single parents and allow them to break away from the difficulties they are often facing.
Won’t a desire to read come naturally?
It is easy to assume that a love for reading will come naturally. However, this is not true. We live in a world with so many distractions for our kids, like TV, video games, and the internet. So it is up to us as parents to be proactive with our children and show them the joys of reading.
The earlier you start, the better, but know that it is never too late to do so.
How do I get my child to love reading and doing it more often?
If you want your child to fall in love with reading, it is crucial to create an environment for them that is conducive for reading.
Here are some easy ways for you to create a positive home environment to encourage your child to want to read often.
Although it is beneficial for single parent children to read age-appropriate books relating to being a child in a single-parent household, it is also important for them to read books on other topics. Topics that interest them. So let them choose books that they want to read.
Create a comfortable reading space for your child. This can simply be a cozy sofa or bean bag in a warm, bright section of the house where your child enjoys spending their time. And make sure their books are readily available and accessible in their reading space.
Have your child read to you every day and listen attentively when they are reading. Ask them questions about the stories they are reading and show them that you are really interested in it too. This will encourage them to read aloud, thereby increasing their confidence and making them better readers. These daily reading sessions do not have to be too long. Each session can last between 5 and 15 minutes, so they will not interfere with your daily homeschool planner.
Just as you have your child read to you every day, it is just as crucial that you read to your child every day. Pausing every now and then to ask questions and talk about the stories you are reading.
Make a daily habit of letting your child choose bedtime stories for you to read to them.
Taking time to implement some of these ideas will see a marked improvement in your child’s ability and desire to read.
Reading consistently is crucial for every child’s academic and emotional development. And for children of single parents, it has the added benefit of helping them deal with their struggles and emotions when they read age-appropriate books relating to their situation. Which sets the groundwork for more open communication between child and parent.
It is important to note, consistent reading will not come naturally. It is our job as parents to take a proactive role and “teach” our kids to love reading.
Creating a special reading space, reading to your kids, and listening to them read to you every day are just some ways you can help your child develop a love for reading.
Establishing consistent reading in your children’s lives will expose them to hundreds of thousands or even millions of more words to ensure they are not at a disadvantage in their academic pursuits. It will also help them better communicate and express themselves.
We want to share a small selection of the best books we recommend for children in single-parent households.
These are books that are good reads for all kids but are especially impactful for young children between 3 and 10 years old in single-parent homes.
Children in single-parent households are dealing with numerous challenging emotions.
Sometimes they blame themselves for a parent leaving because of a divorce. And feel unloved, like there is something wrong with them.
They must deal with seeing friends together with their mum and dad, living in the same house.
It is not easy.
The books on this list are an excellent benefit to kids because:
- They help them get back to being happy again by showing them the positive side of their situation.
- They remind them that they are special and deeply loved.
- They help them to understand their feelings and open up to their parent.
We will try to keep adding to this list over time with more great books.
Book 1 – Two Homes by Claire Masurel
Claire Masurel is an experienced author of children’s books, with over 30 books published to date.
Two Homes is about a boy named Alex who spends time with each parent after their separation. And it makes it onto our list because of its beautiful and natural way of helping a child focus on the positivity of their situation.
It is a 40-page simple child-centric book that does well to steer clear of adult themes and issues and focus almost exclusively on the fact that Alex now has two of everything.
What we like most about Two Homes is its emphasis on the positive side of a situation. So through the separation, Alex now has two of everything and that his mum and dad love him equally, all the time.
It also comes across as unbiased, not trying to blame the mother or father.
Each page only has one to two short sentences, so it could have maybe increased this to appeal more to older kids.
Book 2 – When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends was written by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, a Canadian born author who has been writing non-fiction children’s books since 2001 with a focus on developmental disorders, family situations, and life skills.
Jennifer has a degree in social work and is an experienced child welfare social worker. She is also an early childhood mental health consultant and trainer, as well as a guardian ad litem.
“My Brother is Autistic” is one of Jennifer’s more popular books that were well received, and also considered for the Dolly Gray Award.
“When My Parents Forgot How to Be Friends” helps children to find the right words to describe how they feel and encourages them to share their feelings.
It also has special notes to parents at the back of the book, providing advice on dealing with the emotions and feelings of their children.
The book deals with divorce. It is depicting parents that get along well before the relationship eventually deteriorates into constant fighting—leading to divorce and separation.
Throughout it all, the book helps kids to understand that divorce is not their fault. And that their parents still love them even when they are apart.
What we like:
- Divorce is explained in a simple way
- Beautifully illustrated
- Shows kids they can have a relationship with both parents
- Teaches kids that they will always be loved, and the issues between parents are not their fault
What could be better:
- The book seems biased towards the mother
- It might not apply to a child who does not actively get to visit both parents
- The parents being friends at the end might give a child false hope
Book 3 – You Weren’t with Me by Dr. Chandra Gosh Ippen
“You Weren’t with Me” was written by Dr. Chandra Gosh Ippen.
Dr. Ippen is an associate director of the child trauma research program at the University of California as well as a director of dissemination and implementation for child-parent psychotherapy.
You may have come across one of her more famous books, “Once I Was Very Very Scared.”
One of the best things about “You Weren’t with Me” is that it is not limited to relating to a child experiencing a divorce separation. This book is relevant to all kinds of single-parent situations such as incarceration, deportation, child-welfare, and military service.
The book is about Big Rabbit and Little Rabbit, who are reunited after a painful separation. Little Rabbit wants Big Rabbit to understand what it felt like when they were apart. The book focuses on Little Rabbit conveying his feelings while Big Rabbit listens attentively and makes Little Rabbit feel understood and loved.
It’s a thirty-to page book that is also available in Spanish under the title “Cuando no Estabas Conmigo.”
What we like:
- The book is an excellent way of initiating a dialogue between a parent and child after a difficult separation.
- Big Rabbit never diminishes or dismisses what Little Rabbit is saying
- The book helps in reconnecting and strengthening the bond between parent and child
- It is never explicitly mentioned why the rabbits were separated, which leaves the reason open to apply to any child’s specific situation
We could not find any issues with “You Weren’t with Me.” It is a wonderful book that helps adults understand their children and getting them to open up and talk about stressful events they have experienced.
We hope you have enjoyed this short collection of recommended books for children in single-parent homes.
We have written this article to show you books that are not just good reads, but ones that help children to deal with the emotions they are experiencing and really help them understand that they are always loved. Additionally, these books assist parents in understanding what their child is going through and helps them to communicate better.
Despite the false claims that the dramatic increase in single-parent households is mainly responsible for the decline in academic results in the United States, it’s important to understand the significant impact it has on a child’s social, behavioral, and emotional development. And how this affects academic and other spheres of life. For further reading, please see this article.
Why Single Parenting Affects Children
There are many reasons why single parenting affects a child. Just as there are many different situations that lead to being a single parent, such as divorce, death of a partner, or an absent parent.
Which is why we’ll briefly discuss the most common reasons, and the negative and positive impact these have on children.
Children thrive on stability.
Events such as divorce, death of a parent, and even a single parent dating new partners are significant changes that a child must deal with. These changes bring about massive instability and insecurity in a child’s life.
Children love both their parents. So in cases of a messy divorce, it is common to find parents bad-mouthing each other to their child and even manipulating them into picking sides.
This has a severe emotional impact on a child.
It’s not uncommon to find that single-parent households bring in less income than two-parent families. Meaning there’s often difficulty covering necessary expenses, as well as having less disposable income available.
This has short and long term effects on a child. Ranging from the disappointment in not being able to afford material items, to not being able to afford tertiary academic institutions. Severely limiting a child’s future career prospects.
Single parents are often the sole breadwinner in the household. On top of that, they need to buy groceries and ensure the house is maintained, clean, and running smoothly.
With all these responsibilities, single parents end up with considerably less time to spend with their children.
It can be much more difficult trying to maintain control as a single parent. With the lack of another parent to back them up and a severe lack of time to watch and ‘enforce,’ it’s not uncommon to find children in single-parent households having to keep order themselves.
Having a close bond with your child is encouraged. However, in both single and two-parent homes, there are cases where the parent relies too much on their child for emotional support. Pouring out their hearts to their children on adult topics, a child should not yet have to deal with.
It can be challenging for a child from a single-parent home to see their friends and classmates interacting and enjoying the company of both parents.
These are just some of the factors of single parenting that have a significant impact on a child’s development and behavior.
Now let’s take a look at some of the adverse effects.
In single-parent homes with financial struggles, kids are affected by what they see in the house, as well as what they see around their peers.
This is especially true with older children coming from previously financially stable 2 parent homes. The change can lead to them not having as much, not just in regards to their personal possessions but also less food, holidays, and activities. This reduction brings out strong feelings of frustration and anxiety.
Outside the home, when a child is with his peers who are not facing the same financial difficulties, it’s easy for him to feel left out and suffer from low self-esteem when they all have access to the latest fashions, phones, toys, and trends.
Single parents tend to work more than an individual parent in a two-parent home. It’s not uncommon to see single parents working 2 or even 3 different jobs just to make ends meet.
This is in addition to having to take care of all the other household responsibilities.
As a result, single parents are left with almost no time to dedicate themselves to helping their child with homework, projects, and other educational activities.
This lack of dedicated attention can severely hamper a child’s performance at school and their academic development.
Furthermore, if a child is struggling with a school subject, and the parent is not there to pick up on it, or help them through it, the child will fall further behind his classmates. Leading to enhanced learning difficulties.
Spending less time with a child doesn’t just affect their academic development. It affects their emotional wellbeing too.
Loneliness, frustration, depression, anger, abandonment.
These are common feelings a child goes through when they don’t get enough attention from a parent.
Which can lead to it becoming extremely difficult for them in how they interact with others socially. Ranging from being completely introverted and withdrawn on one end of the spectrum to having unpredictable violent outbursts on the other.
In addition to the negative consequences above, children in the middle of a messy divorce and continued conflict between parents can lead the child to believe that they are the cause of the divorce and their parent’s anger. Causing the child to have deep-rooted feelings of guilt.
It’s important to point out that it’s not all bad.
Depending on how a single parent raises their child, it can have an overall positive effect on their development. Even better than that of regular two-parent households.
Let’s take a look at some of the positive effects of single parenting.
More Responsible and Mature
Children in single-parent homes can often end up being more responsible at an earlier age than children living with both parents.
The reason for this is that they can be assigned age-appropriate chores and responsibilities that are important for maintaining the home. They’re also aware of the importance of these tasks, as there’s nobody else around to do them.
As opposed to children in two-parent homes who are given meaningless chores in the sense that they aren’t essential for the running of the house.
A child in a single-parent home can develop a far stronger bond with their parent.
This is dependent on how much quality time the parent can dedicate to their child.
This close bond doesn’t weaken over time and continues to last throughout adulthood.
Stronger Sense of Community
Single parents can and should make use of their support networks.
This can include:
Friends, extended family, other single parents
This can lead to a lot of time being spent and bonds being formed with the support network and their families. Meaning children won’t feel as lonely as they’re part of a big ‘family’ that they see frequently.
Here are some tips you can follow to really bring out these positive qualities and minimize the negative effects.
What You Can Do
Look After Yourself
Kids are incredibly perceptive.
If you allow yourself to fall into a slump and stay there, indulging in unhealthy eating, being lazy, not maintaining your health, etc.
Your child will pick up on it, and there is a good chance they will mimic the bad behavior.
If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of your child?
Mealtimes, bedtimes, playtimes, bath times.
Consistency is comforting for kids and gives them a great sense of security.
This is why it’s essential to establish a schedule for as many daily tasks as possible for your child.
This will also make it easier to get them to listen to you.
No matter how bad, busy, or chaotic your day is, you must make one-on-one time for your child. With no distractions.
Your child is craving your attention.
Play with them
Talk and listen attentively to everything they want to talk about
Take an interest in their hobbies and passions
Give them positive reinforcement (hugs, praise, etc.)
Wild, uncontrollable kids are actually just crying out for a parent to take charge and establish clear boundaries and discipline in their lives.
You must set clear rules for your child, as well as consequences for breaking them. And ensure consistency in maintaining discipline.
Organize Your Finances
You must budget adequately. Failure to do so can lead to your child not getting the basic necessities needed for education and development.
No matter what, it’s crucial to maintain a positive outlook.
No matter how bad things are, you must trust that things will get better. Positivity is contagious, so too negativity.
If you want your child to be calm, pleasant, and good-natured, it’s vital for you to demonstrate the qualities yourself.
Despite all the negative effects of single parenting, there are a lot of positives too.
And yes, there are serious challenges every single parent must deal with. But, armed with a positive attitude and commitment to raising your child with some of the methods mentioned above, means there’s no reason why you can’t raise a happy, responsible, caring, successful child.