HOW TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO LOVE TO LEARN
Most people want their children to love learning and reading. Most want their children to be better educated. Better education means better quality of life in most cases and who doesn’t want their child to succeed in life? But do you know what to do and how to encourage that love of learning and more specifically reading in your kids?
Author and teacher Leann Miller believes parents are the key to a child’s success in school. A parents’ encouragement is vital to the confidence and determination they will need to expend efforts to learn. Encouraging parents raise kids who want to learn and excel in and out of the classroom.
“Give children encouragement, they will gain confidence, they will perform better.” MK Soni
Why are parents so important in the beginning of life? Leann says “The first 6 years are crucial in a child’s life. Research shows that the brain develops synopses which allow a child to learn more and more information, to make connections, at an astonishing rate in the first three years of life. By age six they should have twice as many synopses as an adult which is why adults begin to forget things. My point is that children are primarily in the home for the first 5 years of their life. Parents are KEY to a child’s success. It is evident the FIRST time I meet a child during Kindergarten Round-Up whether a parent has spent time with a child or not.”
Parents should realize that it doesn’t have to be complicated, but that it does take determination, dedication and perseverance to complete the task. It might help to repeat this mantra over and over: ‘My children are my responsibility and I am in charge of the quality of education I choose for them. I will not expect others to do this for me. I will always care for my child; getting involved, devoting time, money and energy to give them the best education possible. It is more important to work towards this worthwhile goal than anything else I do.’
News analyst Bill O’Reilly writes in his latest column (6/21/07) the number of kids who don’t know how to read or write and who grow up without parental involvement are staggering. “What kind of parent doesn't take his kid to the dentist or encourage the child to read? A bad parent, that's what kind. Millions of American parents are just terrible, routinely abusing and neglecting their children.”
Parents can do much to encourage and support the six pre-reading skills that children must learn in order to read; vocabulary, narrative skills, print awareness, letter knowledge and phonological awareness. The Association of Libraries says that ‘early literacy’ is the phrase that explains what children know about reading and writing before they can actually read and write. Research shows that children get ready to read years before they start school and there is a lot they can learn beginning as babies. Parents can best help pre-school age children learn important skills so they can become good readers because they know their child, his learning styles, moods and amount of time that can be spent to teach. As Anatole France says, “Nine tenths of education is encouragement.” Any parent can learn do this!
Talk with your child every day about what is going on around them, about how things work, feelings, ideas, morals and character. Add more detail to whatever your child tells you, so that she notices and hears new concepts. I.e. he says ‘big truck,’ you say, ‘yes that is a big red fire truck.’ The Library Literacy Association says, “Research shows that children who have larger vocabularies are better readers. Knowing many words helps children recognize written words and understand what they read.”
Read aloud signs, labels, lists, and menus; speak out loud the printed word and point to them as you speak. Let your child hold the book, turn the pages and make book-sharing time a special bond between you and your child. Let your child see you read. “Being familiar with printed language helps children feel comfortable with books and those that enjoy books will want to learn to read.”
Ask open-ended questions about the pictures and let your child tell parts of the story. ‘What is happening first, second and third’ as this will help him learn things happen in sequence. Help him relate things in the story to his own experiences and always listen carefully when your child talks. “Being able to tell or retell a story helps children understand what they read.”
“Knowing the names and sounds of letters helps children figure out how to say written words,” so write your child’s name from magnetic letters or markers. Play silly alphabet games to help associate letters and sounds and point out correct letters when reading.
It’s vitally important to teach children phonological awareness so help your child become aware of smaller sounds at first. Then add two words together such as cow and boy, hot and dog. Play rhyming games with words, read rhyming poems and sing silly songs, making special note of the sounds that are alike and different. “Most children that have difficulty reading have trouble with phonological awareness.”
Leann says more learning can take place as you spend time with your children. The summer months can be used to take advantage of free learning experiences across your town, although this attitude should be in your home year round. Check out newspapers or websites for local educational activities, contests, visit the park, the zoo and the library. Involve kids in the planning and even if you work outside the home, you can reward them with an activity a week after a goal is accomplished. Talk to your child and teach them to see the positives in life each day and be thankful for them. “If you see that your child has an interest in something, encourage them. If they like music encourage them learn to play an instrument and bring music into your home. If they like to draw, take them to art lessons or buy some paints and canvas. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you are noticing their strengths and then talk to them how God has given us valuable gifts and talents to use.”
For more tips on how to encourage your child see www.howtoencourage.com