Parents are role models for their children, regardless of age. Parents play an irreplaceable part in their child’s lives by being their first teachers. Parents teach their children how to read, cook, count, among other early childhood tasks as the child grows. It is very important for parents to be involved in their child’s life to help them mature from a baby to an adult.
As a parent, you should always pay attention to your child’s likings/dislikings, interests, and help him/her explore new and different things. Many teachers encourage parents to review material that their kids learn in class at home to help them better understand areas they may need help with. Always set aside some time with your kid to read together. As a parent, you can read one chapter and have your kid read another chapter. You can also encourage your kid to pick a book they want to read to help them further develop a hobby for reading.
Make learning part of your child’s everyday experience. When you cook together with your child, do measuring math. When you drive in the car, count license plates and talk about the states. When you turn on the blender, explore how it works together. When your child studies the weather, talk about why it was so hot at the beach. Have give-and-take conversations, listening to your child’s ideas instead of pouring information into their heads. Be your children’s friend and have fun with them, that is the only way your child will open up to you and tell you what they like and how they feel about certain things. Also, do not over-schedule your kid’s calendar with outdoor activities all the time since kids need downtime as much as they need to pursue extra-curricular activities. For example, if your child watches too much TV, they spend less time developing their own interests and exploring their own ideas. Minimize your child’s TV time to encourage more out-of-the-box thinking.
Parents eventually have to let their kids take charge of their own learning. “We want to keep children in charge of their learning and become responsible for it,” says Dalton Miller-Jones, Ph.D. “We want them to be responsible for their successes and failures, show them how engaging learning is, and that the motivations for learning should be the child’s intrinsic interests, not an external reward.”
Encouraging a child to learn something new every day develops their curiosity for new things. Take a craft class or new language class together with your children, and talk to your kids about what concepts/ideas they are able to capture quickly and what they are struggling with. Learning together assists kids in becoming more comfortable and confident about making mistakes and better prepares them to fix the mistake.
Children with parental support are more likely to exhibit the following characteristics (according to recent studies):
- Be absent less frequently in school
- Behave better
- Do better academically from pre-school through high school
- Gain admittance to better schools
Research also shows that a home environment that encourages learning is even more important than parents’ income, education level, or cultural background. By actively participating in their child’s education at home and in school, parents are demonstrating their interest in his/her activities and reinforcing the importance of a proper education.
Talking to your kids about developing a positive attitude towards health is extremely important. Communicate with your child about health according to their age. Forming healthy eating habits from an early age is important because you want your child to have a healthy life. Bad habits are typically hard to break, so teaching your kids what is/isn’t healthy at an early age is important. For example, encourage your kids to wash their hands before eating and after using bathrooms, brush their teeth twice daily, pick healthy foods, etc.