Our children are the future! Hillary Clinton was not the first person to coin the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The phrase is so true and we as parents and educators need to be on the same page when dealing with children. Children come into this world as an empty vessel. It is up to us to pour in good information. If good goes in, good comes out… or at least that is the theory. Even if your children are older, it is not too late to begin to encourage that life-long love of learning as well as build their self-esteem. Parents are the first teachers. Educators enter a child’s life soon afterwards. However, parents never stop teaching.
“I have learned that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” ~ Maya Angelou.
Below are 5 easy ways to encourage your children:
- Talk to them. One of the best ways we can encourage our children is to have open dialogue with them. As busy parents, many times we forget this. We give commands and expect complete compliance. However, we can achieve so much more with our children if we simply sit next to them and have an open conversation. This is paramount for school age children and teens. Children are away from us all day in school. The only way to get good information about their day is to ask. They may be unresponsive at first, this is OK! Communication with a parent may not be the norm but it is time to make it the norm. You will not regret it.
- Praise them. This seems so easy yet many parents forget this one as well. We get busy with life, work, deadlines and daily grind. Let us not forget that our children need words of affirmation. All humans do. Make a plan to say something constructive to your child today. Praise them for a job well done, cleaning their room, being obedient, being kind and the list goes on. Get going. Get creative. Get started.
- Help them pursue hobbies and interests. Adults and children are all interested in something. Get to know what your children like and get them involved. Even if it something that you are not fond of, take a deep breath and remember this is not about you. As a parent, your childhood is over but your children are just beginning. So, you may not be a fan of chess or not even know how to play. That does not matter. You can learn or at least be supportive enough to encourage your child in this endeavor.
- Read books to them and have them read to you. I do not know an educator who would not approve of reading. Read to your children. Sitting down with a favorite story shows your child you care about them. All children really crave is your time and attention. Letting them get into a book and teaching them all the wonders of reading is setting them up for a lifetime of success in this area. If your children are older have them read to you. This will not only help their reading improve, it will give you something to discuss. Remember, as adults we are reading all the time. We read directions, recipes, street signs, at work and so on. Surprise your child and start today. You will not be disappointed by the results.
- Play “thinking” games with them. While we all probably played Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders it is time to move past that as our children age. Buy and play games that require them to think. Monopoly, Uno, Banana-grams, Apples to Apples and The Game of Life require skills such as reading, math and higher problem solving.Kindergarten and above is a great time to start these games. Now junior editions of all these games exist. Even though games will start out slow, your children will get better with age. This is also a great family time activity.
Whether you wanted the role or not YOU ARE your child’s first teacher. While you may not be an educator you are equipped to start them on the road to success. It takes more than love and money to raise a child. It really does take a village and at the very least a concerned parent. Talk to them, praise them, pursue interest, play games and read. There is NO downside to doing any of these just as there is NO upside to doing nothing. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time. ~ Thomas Edison