parent involvement

New Year’s Resolution: You Are Your Child’s Greatest Learning Resource So Take Care of You

Today’s new year’s resolution is brought to you by the letter Y: you are your child’s greatest learning resource so take care of you. While this sounds next to impossible for parents, especially when comes to the issue of getting enough sleep, it’s far too important to ignore. And we all need to be there to help.

you are your child's greatest resource

This post has been inspired by words of advice from people who have been there and done that, as well as by some awesome new research from professionals. For those of you who prefer pictures to words, here is a graph that shows when children’s brains are the most sensitive for different kinds of learning.

brain's most sensitive time for learning

If you look at the start, brains are revved up and ready to go for vision, hearing, ways of responding and language. This isn’t like a switch that gets turned on at birth, the learning has already been happening! Babies not yet born can detect sound, so much so that their crying will have the accent of the language they have been hearing. This comes from hearing voices, especially those of the parents. When it comes to food preferences of young children, kids tend to choose ones that are familiar. This is a result of foods they have ‘tasted’ from what their mothers have eaten before birth.

parents are children's greatest resource

That’s just before birth. Children’s brains are learning at an astonishing rate after when they can interact with the world and others around them. Because learning is a developmental process, parents and caregivers are essential. “Scientists now know a major ingredient in this developmental process is the ‘serve and return’ relationship between children and their parents and other caregivers in the family or community.” (InBrief: The Science of Early Childhood Development, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University) This relationship nurtures not just the heart, but the developing mind.

educate the mind and heart

School is just an expansion of the process that has already started for kids from within their families. The classroom teachers aren’t the first, parents are. When kids do get to school, one of the factors that most influences school success is parent involvement.

As parents, you are your child’s greatest learning resource. Taking care of yourself isn’t a selfish luxury. It’s vital. Fortunately, Nature has built in a wise plan. The brain learns best through play. Besides sleep, play is also a way to take care of ourselves. How will you and your child play today?


Children’s Rights Included in Nobel Peace Prize

Malala_Yousafzai_at_Girl_Summit_2014The announcement of Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi  as co-winners of the Nobel Peace Prize also means recognition of the importance of children’s education and rights. The Nobel Committee selected them for “their struggles against the suppression of children and for young people’s rights, including the right to education.” Malala is known as a passionate activist for the right of girls to go to school and wants to see  “every child going to school to get an education.”

Sometimes, we think of school and home as being quite separate, but parents are a critical part of school. It’s easy to overlook that parents are children’s first teachers and home is the first school.  90% of the brain develops by the age of 5, and during those years, kids are at home, not at school. Once children arrive at school, that doesn’t mean parents role is done. Parent Involvement is a key factor in school success. Parents are part of children’s education over the long-term.

What are some things as a parent that you can do to support your child’s early learning and development? That will fit into busy schedules and family budgets? There are 1…2…3 easy things that you can do.

First, include lots and lots of words in your child’s day. This can be by having conversations, singing, telling stories, listening to children’s songs, and talking. You can talk about things and to things. For instance, make up a conversation between the spoon and fork when setting the table. Remind the towel that it needs to hang on the towel bar instead of ‘hanging out’ on the floor.

Read and share books with your child several times a week. One of the biggest educational challenges for your child will be learning to read and this will give your child a powerful start. You can do this anytime of day and use minutes waiting in line and for appointments.

Movement is children’s first form of communication, before they learn to use words, and moving helps brains makes the connections and pathways for math and language. Include lots of movement in a day for your child.

Nobel_medalThe No-bell Prize for Early Learning, Development, and Education doesn’t go to School, it goes to Home!

Kindergarten Readiness/Parent Involvement Makes A Difference #2

Yesterday, the parents and caregivers were standing outside the school waiting for the door to open, talking and visiting. Talking helps children connect with the world and is one of the ways that parents can be involved in helping develop kindergarten readiness.

developing kindergarten readinessLong before children have begun to use any words on their own, parents are talking to them and explaining the world. Conversations with babies might go like this “Is that a smile? Yes, that’s a smile. I see a big smile. You have lots of smiles this morning.” The baby doesn’t understand the words but certainly figures out the warmth of the connection. For some conversations with toddlers, there’s a series of very, very funny Youtube videos, called Convos With My 2 Year Old. Kids learn to talk from the words that they hear from others. By listening to us, kids not only learn the language, but they learn how to express themselves. Talking is how we interact with others.

At kindergarten, kids will be talking far more independently. They will have to share news, ask for help, make friends, play with classmates, ask and answer questions, and there will be no adults there to finish the sentences for them. Doing lots of talking at home beforehand will give them practice with language and ways to use it. Sharing stories and singing songs are easy to think of and do. For more fun, be the voices of everyday objects that have a conversation such as a fork and spoon, or two socks. The table can call the kids to supper or the bathtub can ask a grownup to check that the water isn’t too hot. The car can suggest that it needs some gas in the tank. Puppets and toys can talk to each other. These are just a few ideas for talking and language activities.

Just like the grownups connected this morning with conversations, kids need to lots of conversation practice and interaction too. For a play-of-the-day, can you and your child have some talking fun and learning?

Kindergarten Readiness/Parent Involvement Makes A Difference #1

At the start of each school year parents of toddlers think that in only 1 or 2 years, they will have a little one heading off to school and are concerned about the question of readiness. One of the factors that increases a child’s success at school, also makes a difference in kindergarten readiness. That … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness/Parent Involvement Makes A Difference #1

Readiness for Kindergarten – Same and Different

Start of a new week in the new year. I just read an article with an interesting point of view and wanted to share this perspective with  parents and caregivers because it underscores the New Year’s resolution of ” bite into learning.” The article discusses why it is so important to be involved:   “There … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Same and Different