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Reading to children for relational health

Jennifer Michelle Lyons, MD

As our children have less social interaction with friends and extended family in the wake of COVID-19, pediatricians are looking at what this may mean for Clark County families on a daily basis. When families are faced with challenges that may include balancing work, school changes or childcare, we are encouraging parents to focus on relational health with their children for short periods each day.

Relational health involves establishing and maintaining meaningful relationships through interactions and connections with others.  Benefits of good relational health include feelings of inclusion and worth, support during times of need, personal growth and confidence, and improved communication skills. Providers at Vancouver Clinic are finding new ways to connect with patients using telehealth.

Early literacy and relational health are important to child development. So important that our providers at Vancouver Clinic give books to children at their well child exams from six months to five years of age through the Reach Out and Read program.

A book is an amazing tool that parents can use to promote shared attention with their children. Just taking five minutes to sit and read a book with a child can address the child’s needs for attention and affection. During times of stress or anxiety, children are most in need of the routine and sense of security provided by reading a book with a loved one.

One positive result of the recent pandemic is an increase in availability of some wonderful educational resources for children. If you don’t have many books to read at home, here are some incredible resources for reading and learning online:

Virtual Reading and Live Events

Online Learning

  • Scholastic has created a free Learn at Home environment with day-by-day projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.
  • Switcheroozoo allows kids to watch, listen, and play games to learn all about amazing animals.
  • PBS Kids and PBS LearningMedia facilitates hanging out with favorite characters all while learning.
  • Sesame Street offers a variety of games, coloring pages, videos, and learning resources.
  • StarFall offers activities for Pre-K and younger to practice literacy, emerging phonics and reading at home.
  • Fun Brain has games to play while practicing math and reading skills.
  • Tinkergarten At Home focuses on educational DIY activities and virtual Tinkergarten classes to foster at-home learning that is easy and fun.

Screen Free Activities

Vancouver Clinic is here to support you as we discover new ways to help create and maintain safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with our children. For more guidance, send your pediatrician a message through MyChart, or consider scheduling a video visit for any medical or mental health concerns.

Jennifer Lyons, MD, is a pediatrician at Vancouver Clinic’s Columbia Tech Center location. She is also the Medical Director of the Clinic’s Reach Out and Read program.