The number of small-but-important lessons in life your young child needs to learn is overwhelming. Fortunately, the lessons are available all around us. Many of the most important ones are easily handled if you just set your mind to finding them.
Many of life’s best lessons for little ones are learned in the car. There you have a chance to hear how preschool went or how her visit with her good friend was fun. What did she do that she really enjoyed in either situation?
You also have a chance to show her the sign that says “School Zone” and talk about when school will begin and what she should expect. You also have a chance to show her the sign that says “Stop,” the signal that is red, green or yellow, trees turning orange, a lady in a wheelchair, a new store, a man in an army uniform and a bird in the tree.
You also can talk about the different color cars on the road. All of these things are teaching your child letters, colors, and the sounds of letters. She also wants to hear all the words that are available to her in life. These are lessons that will prepare her for school when the time comes.
Another lesson in life she is learning as she talks with you is to figure out who she is. Talk with her about what she likes and what she doesn’t like. Lean about her from her; you may be surprised.
There are so many things to learn about her. You will be pleased you took the time to talk about them. Ask her what she likes to do the very best and her favorite places to go. Find out what she would name her baby if she had one or even what she would name her doll. What is her favorite toy? Who is her best friend? If she could change her name, what would she change it to?
Which of all of the book you have read to her is her favorite? Even ask her why? Tell her your favorite too. Talk with her about when she wants to go back to the library for another book.
You may find your child is more talkative or willing to discuss things in the dark after the lights are off. Try it. Talk about the day, about what made her happy and what made her sad and about what she would like to change. This is a wonderful way to build closeness and encourage communication.
Don’t interrogate her; just talk with her. Let the questions just evolve from the talk you are having together.
The answers to these questions may not be the same next week but you learn about her as you find out her answers for this week.
Make sure you take advantage of any educational times that come your way whether they are in the car, after dark or just sitting around.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which published newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents.