You probably do not bring a child to an amusement park without first setting the ground rules: To remain close, to hold hands, etc. If that is how you would set up your child for a successful, enjoyable- safe experience. Why would you approach your child’s learning any differently? Because it is up to you to insure that your child is ready to succeed in school, you need to switch continuously between the roles of parent and that of a teacher. All parents of preschoolers possess only the highest hopes for their children. Then do parents need to plan and participate to make this a reality? Absolutely!
Picture this: In a classroom of 20 children and one teacher, some children may demonstrate cooperative social behavior and some may not. Some children may have the knowledge base or readiness to learn reading and writing skills, but some may not. Which of these children do you think will receive the most positive feedback (smiles, hugs, privileges, rewards) from adults in the school and parents?
Now identify which of these children will develop an eagerness for learning, exploring new information, and new academic challenges? The children receiving positive feedback from others will have the greatest desire to learn new skills and information. Therefore it is possible at early levels of formal schooling to identify children who will have a successful academic experience.
As parents and teachers, it is never too early to be active in child development and learning. This is not to say that you should adopt a schooling approach in your home but rather an awareness of how your family values learning. Parents need to walk the walk and be sure they prize, practice, and protect the values they want their children to adopt. For instance, most parents would like their children to be competent if not avid readers. Therefore, parents and caregivers must be seen actively reading newspapers, instruction manuals, novels, maps, and recipes.
Children need to see parents doing what parents expect them to do someday. As frequently as you read something in a day, share the information and each act of reading with your child whenever possible. Play language games with your child: rhyme and singsong with nonsense words as well as with words with meaning. Create a special place for your child’s books and together build up your home library. In addition to being role models, parents need to read books aloud to their children. Set aside time to read together each day—a quiet time, whether it is before bedtime, nap time, or just during breakfast.
Young children learn by doing and have a good likelihood of developing a love for reading if they experience a warm and delightful reading session on a daily basis.