What you do today makes a difference in your child’s success in school tomorrow. That sounds rather strange when you think your child might still be in kindergarten or another early grade, but it really is true.
These early years of your child’s life are incredibly important in terms of setting the foundation for his success. When you lay the proper foundation, your child will have more success in school and you will feel more successful in your parenting.
Where to start
The proper foundation has two important parts. Part 1 is to read to him each and every day. You do not have to spend hours reading but spend at least 15 minutes. Make sure he sees the book you are reading from so he can connect words with pictures.
If he wants to pick out the book, that should be totally okay. Even if he wants to read the same book every day, that is fine. He must really like it.
He will even begin to know the order some of the words come in and say them before you say them. Let him hear you talking positively about his interest in reading when you talk to grandma. That will make him feel proud.
Brag about his reading interest to his father even when your child is in the room with you. It is fine for him to know how positively you feel about what he is doing.
Part 2 is to teach him to follow instructions. As with reading, you need to be the one who teaches him about following instructions. The first thing you need to do when you want him to do something is to pay attention to what you are saying. This is critical.
You also need to make sure that you maintain his attention. You will not have his attention if he is playing a video game or television is on.
When you speak, speak quietly. A soft voice may capture his attention better than a loud one. Give your child a few minutes to process what you have said so you can be sure it has sunk in. This gives you a chance to repeat what he may have missed.
Ask your child to tell you what you have asked him to do. This gives him a chance to clarify anything he misunderstood.
Do not ask him to do several things or he may get confused and not do any of them very well.
Kudos are key
We mentioned the importance of telling others of his reading success. It is also important to do something to acknowledge his skill at following instructions.
The most important one who needs to hear this is your child. Give him a hug when he is done. Tell him how proud you are of the good job he has done or how well he followed your instructions. He needs to hear when he does things right.
Both these main ways to teach your young child sound simple but they take a lot of effort from you. But remember, his success is worth it.
In addition to his success in school, doing these two things will also make him even more successful in life and more fun right now.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-681-2250.