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The BBC's Mike Baker
"Families are often too busy with other things"
 real 56k

Dr Aric Sigman
"A quarter of under-fours have a television in their bedroom"
 real 28k

Helen Cresswell, children's author
"Passing on values to the child"
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Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 14:44 GMT
Bedtime story 'under threat'
dad reading to child
Reading has a calming effect, psychologist says
An increasing number of parents do not have enough time to read their children a bedtime story, a survey has found.

Researchers fear the trend may have serious consequences for children's emotional and academic development and are calling on parents to relearn the skills of story-telling.

aric sigman
Aric Sigman: "Need to cultivate focused attention"
Six out of 10 parents told psychologist Dr Aric Sigman they did not have enough time to read to their children before they were tucked up for the night.

Dr Sigman said that was a pity, because stories could help them to unwind from the day - and were likely to improve their school work.

Children should not be allowed to watch television immediately before they went to bed because it over-stimulated them, he said.

"It is very hard to get children to take an interest in reading unless you get them interested early on.

sadeshi bedi
Sadeshi Bedi: "Special time"
"A lot of multimedia stimulation, from TV or computers, is now thought by many scientists not to be very good for children."

Sadeshi Bedi is one mother who feels guilty that she does not always find the time to spend reading to her two boys.

"It does bother me because it's not just the reading, it's that special time that you have with the children," she said.

Calming routine

Dr Sigman's research was commissioned by Powergen, which said it had been asked by parents about the best light and temperature levels for getting children off to sleep.

He said stories should be part of a day-end routine because that helped to establish a regular sleep pattern.

"Parents need to re-learn about the importance of the bedtime story."

He questioned 84 parents with 150 children for the study, to compare reading patterns between generations.

Long working hours

While almost three quarters recalled being read to regularly when they were young, only 40% of their children heard a story most nights of the week.

His work is reinforced by extensive research over the years which has shown that if parents read to their children, have books in the home, and hear their children read, the children's own reading standards improve.

Other researchers have said that a culture of long working hours destroys parents' relationships with their children, making it difficult for them to talk to them or monitor their homework.

One common complaint from children is that their parents - especially dads - fall asleep themselves before they have finished reading a story.

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