As you continue to learn and grow with your child, remain aware of your child’s developmental needs as this will help you understand and track her readiness. This includes the overall health as well as emotional needs. Also determine if your child is getting enough social interaction with peers. Stay very much aware of your child’s cognitive or intellectual functioning.
What new information is your child learning? Is the child practicing or exploring new ways to apply the information? Does your child have opportunities to exercise and explore creative processes ? It will require careful thought and honest evaluation to meet most of your child’s needs, but it is worth every bit of effort.
All young children can learn and grow if educational opportunities are varied and actively involve them. Look forward to great amounts of learning from your child, but expectations must be based on individual strengths so that progress will be challenging and yet rewarding. By nature, young children are inquisitive and curious. They use all their senses and capacities more easily than adults might. Young children benefit from the opportunity to work in their preferred areas of strength but also from the chance to explore other ways of knowing. While some children with verbal/linguistic strengths enjoy hearing stories about dinosaurs, others with visual/spatial strengths may be eager to learn by forming dinosaur models out of clay. Children with bodily / kinesthetic strengths may prefer to playact how dinosaurs lived during prehistoric times. Others with musical/rhythmic strengths may enjoy singing songs and dancing about dinosaurs.
Children with intrapersonal strengths need solitude at times and may prefer to read books about dinosaurs in a secluded area. Others with interpersonal strengths possess an ability to “read” people and enjoy working on group projects. A child with strong logical/ mathematical ability might want to categorize dinosaur data or to make up a game about patterns of dinosaur skeletons. A strong intelligence in the area of nature may prompt a child to observe reptiles and birds, our modern-day ‘relatives’ of dinosaurs.
Young children will benefit from the chance to develop their specific areas of strength. An example familiar to everyone is that of a highly successful athlete. The raw material (physical prowess) is the starting point. The opportunity for further physical development as well as the acquisition of necessary information and lots of practice produces a highly accomplished athlete. Though not everyone is born with star athlete material, everyone can discover their abilities and strengths if offered the opportunity. Help your child identify his/her strengths and give him/her many different opportunities to develop those areas of intelligence or ability.
As parents speak with children on a casual, daily basis, they can present questions in ways that spur thought, predictions, and conclusions. Rather than asking questions that require yes and no answers, parents can ask questions such as “What if. . . ?” or “How . . . ?” or “Why . . . ?” These types of questions require the use of higher level thinking skills.Whatever activity or project you and your child do together, by all means keep it enjoyable. Too much pressure to learn things that your child is not developmentally ready to learn can have negative results on his/her progress. The time spent together should not become tedious.
It is better to halt an activity or project before your child has finished rather than to keep pushing to reach a certain goal or point you may think is important. Any positive and loving time spent with your child is a good thing, regardless of how much intellectual material you actually cover. Use the activities offered in How to Be Your Child’s First Teacher as stepping stones for educational experiences.
Select the appropriate activities that best fit your child’s developmental readiness and his/her interests. By becoming informed about ways to help your child succeed and using that information informally each day,you will positively impact your child’s future. For a winning combination, send your child messages that convey your eagerness to learn new things and an excitement about continued personal growth throughout your life.
Always be willing to drop your adult concerns and projects when your child brings you the gift of a ‘teachable moment”, a time when she/he is all eagerness to learn.