All school-aged children are now back in school and are happy to be back into their school routine. Many parents were counting down the minutes until the school bus arrived on the first day of school and were also happy or happier (?) to see the start of another school year. Please remember that when your child comes back home at the end of a school day that he/she has much to share with you so please be ready to listen. By that I mean, put down your iPhone, your iPad or get off of your computer and really listen. Look at your child and give all of your attention to him/her. You will be sending your child the message that you are really interested in what has happened to him/her in the 7-9 hours since you last saw each other. Ask your child specific questions, listen to the answers. Please don’t ask, ‘how was your day?’ or you will get ‘fine’ as an answer. Sit with your child, share an after school snack and ask specific questions such as:
- Who did you eat lunch with?
- What specials did you have today?
- What story did your teacher read to you today?
- What were you working on in math today?
- Did you read with the teacher today?
- What were you writing about in your journal today?
You will get much more information about your child’s day when you ask specific questions and your child will be happy to share information about his/her day. Do this everyday and if you don’t see your child immediately after school, talk about his/her day while you prepare dinner or while the family eats dinner together. These are the days that will be making memories for your child about his/her childhood…..help make the memories special by sharing time and talking with your child.
Children should be read to every day at home, no exceptions, no excuses! Children are read to at school every day, but nothing can take the place of mom or dad reading a story every night… especially right before bedtime. When I was teaching first grade, along with the daily reading instruction that was taking place in my classroom, I was required to give a standardized reading test individually to each and every child twice a year. One of the first questions that I was required to ask during the reading test was “Who reads with you at home”. A few children always said ‘no one’ but the remaining children always answered immediately with “mom”. Not once in all of the times that I gave this test (we’re talking hundreds of test sessions) did a child every say ‘dad’. Dads, where are you when your child is being read to, or reading outloud at night? Your child needs YOU, or an uncle, or a grandfather who is available every day to read to your child. Dad, your child needs to see that you value books, the ability to read and enjoy them, and the process in which your child will become a lifelong reader. Dads, think about the message that you are sending your child when you are not involved at all in the reading process. You may not realize it but the message that your child is receiving is that you do not put any value or importance on reading and the ability to learn to read. Think about it. Is this really the message that you want to send your very impressionable young child? I don’t think so. Start tonight… Start a new evening tradition, grab a book, a comfy reading spot (chair or bed) and surprise your child with the wonder of a story read by dad. You will be happy after the story and I guarantee that your child will even be happier than you will be.