Every parent loves their child. I truly believe this even though it may not always look that way. Unless every parent makes the following 3 things a priority, they are actually holding their child back from achievement and opportunities.
What Every Parent Should Do Everyday
Reading aloud is truly the single most important thing that you can do to help your child have future success. Every single thing in life revolves around reading. If you don’t think so, just count the times you read driving to the grocery store. Because you and I can read, we do it without even realizing that we are reading.
Reading is life. It is a skill needed to function and be a productive citizen.
Currently, I teach first grade. I love teaching kids to read. As a first grade teacher, I found that the kids that propel in reading have been given a foundation of language from their parent or a loved one that read aloud to them every day. These children have a foundation of how language works so that the process of learning to read “just comes to them.” On the other hand, the children that come to first grade with little to no read aloud experiences are language deprived. Truly!
In order to learn to read, they must first learn how language works and vocabulary. I have a sweet motivated girl in my class that has a huge desire to read. She is improving, but the lack of background knowledge and vocabulary is holding her back. She can’t decode words that she has never heard about. She can’t use picture clues to figure out unknown words when she doesn’t know what the object is in the picture.
For example, she didn’t know words that seem common to most first graders such as seagull and palm tree. She’s missed years of foundational skills; thus, as her teacher, I need to work diligently to fill in the gaps. This whole problem is solved by reading aloud to your child. I beg you to do it every day even through the teen years to bolster vocabulary, build empathy, expand comprehension, and set your child up for future success.
In our fast paced digital, personal device world, family conversations seem to be diminishing. Sure, families talk about things like their next activities or bark demands. (I know I did that.) However, I’m talking about actually conversing with your child as you go about your daily life. Talk about your environment. Talk about what you are reading. Talk about your day. Talk about your hopes and dreams. Talk about what interests your child.
As a parent, I found that my children wanted to talk the most when I tucked them into bed at night. I thought it was a ploy to stay up later. It isn’t. I can reassure you. This happens because this is the time of day when they have calmed down and quieted their mind. Their ideas begin to flow or they reflect about their day and they want to talk. Please listen and talk to them. What could be more important?
When you talk with your children, they feel valued. This feeling increases learning by increasing their self worth. They are motivated to learn when they feel valued. Feeling valued is one indicator of a successful life.
Play and talk with your child. This past week, my first graders did a snowman project. To my surprise, many of them didn’t know that the largest snowball goes on the bottom, the middle-sized snowball goes in the middle, and the small snowball goes on top. They had their snowballs in all kinds of different orders. Wow! I realized that they hadn’t ever built a snowman or read books about snowmen or talked about snowmen. They just didn’t know better.
I’m not a super parent, but I did build snowmen with my children or read books to them about snowmen or watched “Frosty the Snowman” with them and talked about it. You can too.
Talking to your child increases their vocabulary. Let’s revisit the girl in my first grade class that didn’t know what a seagull was. Well, I know for a fact that seagulls seem to gravitate to every Wal-Mart parking lot. You don’t have to live near the beach to know about a seagull. All you have to do is talk when you are out and about- “Oh, look over there, look at that seagull.” Talking builds confidence and vocabulary that sets your child up for future success.
Talking makes all the difference in the learning. Please talk with your children about everything going on around them. They will build a literacy foundation that sets them up for life.
Cook home cooked meals for them
As a teacher, I notice that each year, children seem to find it more and more difficult to focus. I truly believe this is a byproduct of nutrition. The students in my class that bring their lunch from home and have carefully selected foods, not Lunchables, are able to sustain attention to learn. They are excelling.
Every parent has the ability to cook at home. I know that it takes more thought and preparation, because I am a parent too. In fact, I dreaded 5:00 PM at my house when everyone came home hungry, and I came home tired needing to feed the hungry clan healthy food.
Food is fuel for our brain and body. Our body will only function as well as the fuel put in. Processed foods have little to no nutritional value. We are starving their brains with fast foods that are high in sugars and low value carbs. Let’s cook at home and feed them unprocessed fruits, veggies, and protein.
Cooking at home increases vocabulary.
One day when my oldest son was about eight years old, he was hanging out in the kitchen with me. I asked him to grab the potholder for me. He just stood staring at me. I said it louder. (because saying it louder will increase his comprehension, right?) Still no response. Finally after I impatiently snatched it up for myself, he said, “Oh, that. You never told me what that was.” Goodness! I should have been talking with him as we cooked too.
At school, I sit with my students for lunch. Often, kids ask me about items in my lunch such as the following: avocados, raisins, potatoes, and meatloaf. If they were eating more home cooked meals, they would know about these foods.
In our busy world that can be exhausting, I promise that these 3 things will make an enormous positive impact in your child’s life. It’s worth making them a priority today.
Let’s make a positive difference~ one word at a time.
Please share this article with others that you think would benefit from these tips. Also, please ask any questions that you may have about teaching children reading or writing. Leave your questions in the comments. I’ll answer.
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