I had lunch with a teacher friend of mine yesterday who teaches children that are struggling to learn how to read. We were trying to figure
And while I see truths to all of that, I feel that something else needs to be addressed. And that is parent involvement from ages 1-5. When a reading specialist has to teach a 6-year-old how to assemble a 20 piece puzzle, or how to properly use a scissor, there is a critical problem. Those are skills that parents need to teach their own child before they enter school.
I am a parent. I have 2 children and 2 step children. When my kids were little I exposed them to a plethora of things that helped with their development. When my daughters were 6 months old, I would give them cheerios on their high chair to strengthen their pincer grip. When they were 1, I gave them wooden puzzles to assemble. When they were 2, I took them to the park and let them climb stairs by themselves. When they were 3, they dressed and fed themselves. When they were 4, I began teaching them to use the monkey bars. All of these things play an important role in creating skills children need to be successful learners.
When you’re a teacher in Kindergarten and first grade, there are so many things you need to teach, and so many goals you need to accomplish. There are time frames exhibited by children which we need to take advantage of, to create a solid foundation in learning. We do not have time to teach how to cut or color.
Wasting time teaching the things a parent is supposed to teach hinders my ability as a teacher to teach the important things your child needs to learn in order to be successful. When we do centers in class, we are teaching and playing at the same time. When we dance and sing, we are also teaching through play.
When your child misses those activities because we have to teach them how to cut, or how to hold a pencil or help them finish a coloring assignment they couldn’t complete because they don’t know how, or they got tired, it hinders your child’s ability to learn and participate in all the fun things we have planned for them.
I want to talk about 4 things all children need to know before they enter Kindergarten.
As soon as your child is old enough to hold a pencil and put it to a paper, they’re old enough to learn how to color. Coloring on an iPad is not an option. I’m talking about good
Allowing them to do so teaches them how to hold a pencil. When you go to a restaurant, give them paper and a crayon. Show them how to do it. Teach them how to draw a happy face. How to draw a square. How to draw a big line and a little line.
When they’re 4 show them how a coloring page has an outline and explain to them that they should try to stay inside that outline. When you expose your child to coloring for long periods of time, you are creating strength in their hands, so that when they get to Kindergarten, they don’t get tired of coloring after a few minute because their hand hurts and give up or take forever to finish. You’re teaching them to take pride in their work by teaching them how to do it properly. These small things save us the time we could use to teach them what you can’t.
One of my favorite activities to do with my girls when they were little was to take a bunch of department store magazines and circulars and give them to my girls to cut. I taught them that 4 fingers go in the oval part of the scissor, and their thumb goes in the circle part. At first they would just make random cuts, and sometimes they nicked their fingers, and that was ok. Just make sure the scissors are child scissors with blunt edges.
Eventually this activity became a favorite past time. And today, they are 9 and 7 and will cut up a magazine and create either a book or a poster or vision board with them. When my children entered Kindergarten I was confident in their ability to cut, and as a result they had more time to learn the important things.
PULLING UP THEIR OWN PANTS:
When my children were about 3 years old, right after they were potty trained, I taught them to put up their pants. If I had a penny for every child I taught that didn’t know how to do this, I would be rich. This is such a simple thing to teach, but it is also so imperative to their development. Children need to learn gross motor skills and fine motor skills BEFORE they enter Kindergarten.
I want you to think of this. How does your child feel when they go to the bathroom at school, and all their life they have had you fixing their clothes. Next time you feel like dressing your Kindergartener, think of that and instead of doing it for them, give them the tools to do it themselves. Your baby will always be your baby even when he knows how to dress himself, even when he’s 16 and driving a car, and when he too is holding his own baby in the future. Don’t stifle your child. Give them the tools to grow.
UNDERSTANDING HOW A BOOK WORKS:
Reading to your child is so important. It’s a statement you have heard a million times. And a statement you tell yourself you don’t have time for. I think this is one of those things you have to make time for, even if it’s once a week. Yes, reading to your child will help them understand story structure, and it keeps them entertained for a little bit, but it does so much more.
Reading to your child lays the groundwork for how they learn to read. I have taught children that don’t understand how to turn a page in a book. That’s probably the saddest thing I have ever seen. Why? Because that poor child has never been exposed to a book. Reading creates a bond with your child. It helps them understand the basics of
I am not going to lie to you and tell you I read to my kids every night. Most nights I was tired. But I trekked through the exhaustion and I did it. Because I knew how important it was. You should too. Foster that part of their brain which allows them to understand how to learn from a story.
As I said before, your child will always be your baby, but inevitably that baby will grow. Not giving your child the things they need to do so, stifles them. When you plant a seed, do you try to keep it contained so it stays little forever? Or do you water it and wait for it to grow and bear fruit?
Teach your child to grow, give them the things they need to do so, and revel in the fruit they produce.
A mom of 2 beautiful children, 2 amazing step-kids and I have a wonderful and amazing partner who is my number one fan. I am a teacher with 15 years of experience. I have a Masters Degree that helps me create the tools I need to tailor education for children who learn differently. I know the struggle of working full time and coming home exhausted to continue part 2 of your day. Your child’s success in school is tied to the tools you give them at home. Let me give you the keys you need to unlock success for your children at school.