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On 30 January 2017, the Supportive Education Center of MahmoudAbad held the first Gathering of the Reading with Babies and Toddlers Program by the cooperation of the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature in MahmoudAbad, Shahr-e-Rey.

This gathering was held for mothers that had already participated in the “Reading with Babies and Toddlers” workshops in order to exchange ideas, make connections, share different experiences and talk about the influences this program has had on their families.

 Mothers in children in the Gathering of the Reading with Babies and Toddlers Program - Read with Me in MahmoudAbad - January 2017

More than 30 mothers along with their babies and toddlers participated in this gathering and some of the mothers shared their experiences, achievements and influences of the program on themselves, their children and their families.

One of the mothers who is currently studying in the Literacy Movement classes of this center said:

“I couldn’t read the books provided by this program; so I would just show the illustrations to my child, but now I can read. My son likes reading so much that after one year, he still brings me the same books and asks me to read them for him. He doesn’t tear apart the books of his 7 year old brother; he carefully turns the pages and looks at them.”

Another mother talked about her experience in the “Reading for Babies and Toddlers” workshop:

“When I was introduced to this workshop, I had a two month old baby. At that time I sang to him and he listened carefully. It’s really interesting that now that he is 6 months old, he likes those songs better than the new songs that I sing to him.”

Another mother shared her experience by saying:

“I attended these workshops when I was pregnant with my third child. At first, I didn’t really believe in reading for a baby inside the womb or even for a few month old baby. But after attending these workshops I started talking to my baby and after his birth, I started reading books to him. I can really see the influence on him. When I compare him with my other children and with children who are around the same age as him, there is a huge difference. He is more responsive and he has a more developed auditory and visual system.”

Fereshteh Dabbagh, one of the most experienced experts of the Read with Me program who has held three rounds of “Reading with Babies and Toddlers” workshops in this center, concluded the experiences of these mothers by giving a speech:

“We need a society of human values. That’s why we need to teach our children to understand their value and dignity. We need to raise active children with creative powers and self-belief and give them hope and love for the future and teach them to stick to their values.”

Dabbagh also talked about the method of speaking and reading with babies and toddlers:

“Mothers with children from 0-2 years old should teach them different colors, fruits, animals, birds, tools… to heighten and develop their visual, auditory and motor skills. Mothers should engage in conversations with children above 2 years old who have started talking. For example, after reading books, they should ask questions and listen to their children’s responses. It is also better to use a maternal voice and rhythm.

A four month old baby knows his name. Call him by his name. When you’re talking or reading to him, his responses include laughing, clapping, stomping and making cooing sounds which all contain meanings that you, as parents understand.

By creating different dynamics in your voice, making faces, rhythmically moving your body and using a warmer, more maternal and loving voice and at the same time observing the cooing sounds that your baby makes in response, you can find out the role you play in shaping the learning abilities and lingual growth of your child.

The benefits of reading aloud appear in babies between 8 months old to one year old. This is when the baby can connect with a book and develop an interest in that book. By reading books to your children, you can develop their basic reading skills which are fundamental in learning how to read and write later in life.”

Dabbagh pointed out that some of the children who participated in the “Reading for Babies and Toddlers” program with their mothers are no longer toddlers. So she asked these mothers to continue reading to their children at least until they reach 5 years old which is the standard age for entering kindergarten. She also emphasized the importance of learning and recognizing sounds and developing the vocal cords in children before going to preschool by introducing the “Learning Sounds” package written by MohammadHadi Mohammadi and published by the Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature. She encouraged the participants to join the library of the Supportive Education Center of MahmoudAbad, borrow this package and read it to their children.  Dabbagh also explained: “Sounds are very important. Children imitate the sounds and words that they hear. If you mispronounce a word, so will your children; and when they start learning how to write in school, they are likely to write that word incorrectly. So it’s very important to pay attention to the sounds and rhythms that you teach your children. In the “Learning Sounds” packages, each lesson teaches a sound using a story.”

Later, Fariba Saket, another RWM expert, introduced the book reading competition in the library of this center. This competition asks children and their families to borrow books from the library and choose their favorite books by rating them. In the age group of 0-6, parents should read the books to their children, rate those books from 1 to 5 stars according to their children’s reactions and also fill out an evaluation form. The winners are those who read the books and express their opinions in a correct and clear manner.

At the end of the gathering, the interested participants joined the library and signed up in the book reading competition and the ceremony ended in a happy atmosphere.

An exhibition was also held alongside this gathering, displaying handmade cloth books and other handcrafts made by mothers for their babies and toddlers.

The “Reading for Babies and Toddlers” Program has been implemented in the Supportive Education Center of MahmoudAbad since July 2015. In this program, a series of sessions have been held in four rounds (one year in total) for mothers with babies from 0-3 years old. With the supervision of the RWM experts, these mothers learn how to read with their children correctly and to bring quality books to their children from an early age. These sessions include workshops such as Book Reading, How to Sing Songs and Lullabies, Storytelling Using Puppets and How to Make Books for Children.

Click on the links below to read interviews with some mothers who have joined the program:

Handmade Toys by Mothers in children in the Gathering of the Reading with Babies and Toddlers Program - Read with Me in MahmoudAbad - January 2017 Handmade Books by Mothers in children in the Gathering of the Reading with Babies and Toddlers Program - Read with Me in MahmoudAbad - January 2017 Handmade Books by Mothers in children in the Gathering of the Reading with Babies and Toddlers Program - Read with Me in MahmoudAbad - January 2017

This post is also available in: Persian