-By John Mohd Bhat

“Be the parent today that you want your kids to remember tomorrow”.
We all want our child to be successful, happy and get the very best in life. The first thing that you will look for, is a good school then good college and finally they will choose their career. While you will help your child to achieve these goals remember that you as a parent can shape your child more than any school can.

You are the teacher who will have the greatest impact on your child. Children get influenced by the world they see around them every day and it’s your home where they see everything, imitate and practice. It’s your home rather than school that has the greatest impact on students’ learning, work ethic and curiosity. You are the role model for them and the way you behave at home and treat others will be reflected in children.

We as a parent need to create children who love to learn, who are curious and conscientious by playing with them, taking them outdoors, and reading to them and engage them in discussions about what they are reading, seeing, hearing, feeling and thinking. There are few skills and qualities that every child needs to develop that will become the foundation of success in school and we as parents can do to help. Reading, speaking and writing seems to be obvious but are building blocks of the foundation that parents need to get right and pay more attention to.

Reading: If you want your child to get ahead in life, to develop their own ideas and get the abundance of knowledge then there is only one rule: you must help them to become good readers. Good readers don’t mean they can simply read, but reading should become as important as breathing. Developing a habit of reading is not only going to open new worlds of  enquiry, joy, interest, love, compassion ,empathy and culture, but also create thinkers who will be able to draw on more experience than their relatively short, bounded lives will give them. Like all of our children’s habits and learned behaviors, they take their lead from us, their parents. If they are to find a love of reading they will need you to share your love of it with them. If you don’t have love of reading then recognize that it is one of the most valuable  things you can give your child, and all it requires is the desire and the effort to start something that is good for both of you as a part of your daily routine. As soon as your child is able to sit up in your lap and focus on something that you hold in front of them you should be reading to them. Do make sure it is the print you are reading though, and not text from the screen. When you start reading to your baby it’s your voice and your presence that makes the experience so nice to them, then it will be the pictures and the feel of the books that you are looking at together while you read. When your children enjoy reading by themselves, you still have to guide them and monitor what they are reading. Children are the best imitators and are remarkable at learning through modeling. They will learn your best and your worst behaviors, which you should try to recognize as feedback rather than something to get cross about. If our children see us sitting quietly , reading , then we will help them  develop their capacity to sit quietly and learn to be happy, be alone with themselves, be at peace without being bored or needing to be entertained, played with or attached to a device.  Developing a habit of reading also develops a habit of contentment. Parents should continue reading to their children even if they are in secondary school and encourage them to read loudly. It will make them fluent and will develop their comprehension.  When your child starts sharing what they are reading with you, then you know that you have done your job and helped them become readers and thinkers. If they don’t take to it right away then don’t give up, all children go through phases and it will take some time to make them good readers with gradual steps.

Speaking:  Speaking is the most immediate way of sharing our thoughts with others. It turns our ideas and reasoning into a discussion, a collaborative exchange of knowledge and ideas. The lack of ability to express ourselves is often the source of misunderstanding, conflict or, as anymore with a toddler will know outbursts of temper and violence. Speaking fluently means the child has a clear thinking process and is able to organize and articulate things or thoughts. Children will learn well by mimicking and repetition. Test your child over the course of a week and see how much they can learn in the song or rhyme. The spoken word, put to music and movement, is a powerful learning technique. Make sure when you have a conversation with your child, it causes thinking. You should encourage them to put their opinions to the test. If they tell you about any incident or share views on something, follow up with a question about the source of that information or opinion and see how far they reach their foundation. When they share their views with you, get into the habit of asking them why they think that, what has made them think that. Put some examples that might require them to think differently or ask them to come up with a counter-example that will require them to do more thinking. You have to create that environment where your child feels comfortable to share what they feel without any judgement. Children have so many questions and ideas at an early age and as a parent you need a lot of energy and patience to maintain their  questioning and thinking capability . You should not handle the query with irritation  and anger and force them to do  what you want them to do. It will hamper their learning and will create behavioral issues at school, with their friends and eventually with you. Learning to speak openly with you, and develop their own thoughts will prepare them for the real challenges that they will be exposed to at school or later in life.

Writing: Writing is a way to organize our thoughts or even to find out what we are thinking. It is a visible and reflective exercise in critical thinking , the formulation of an argument , an analysis of what is known , the synthesis of new knowledge coupled with one’s own experience followed by a formation of a hypothesis or opinion that is more redefined and robust. The opinion is now ready to be tested by sharing  it with others , either through  the writing itself or in conversation. Research shows that the students who practice writing develop skills of analysis and inference that remain undeveloped in students who read and make notes by highlighting and underlining text. Developing the habit of writing in children will develop their motor skills and patience needed in coloring, drawing and practicing cursive writing. The earlier they learn things, the best is for them to be successful. Many children at the age of 4 or 5 are not able to hold pencil and use their fine motor skills to form the characters. For such children it is recommended to practice dot-to-dot letters. Once they develop the habit of completing dot-to-dot challenges that you set they will be able to copy what you put on paper whether symbols or words. Give them paper and colour and let them scribble, draw or paint whatever they want to. They will tell you when they are ready to write and don’t compare your children’s progress with other children. Let them take their time and they will wonder you in unexpected ways. Writing is a complex motor task that requires a level of control that your child may have or may not. The motor skills associated with the writing will come, but many parents are in such a hurry to have them arrive that they put more time into it than they do into the foundation. If you want a child to have control over their hands then you need to help them be in full control of their shoulders, arms, elbows and wrist first. This is where play, sports , games and crafting come into the preparation writing. Although most children are able to write by the time they get to secondary school, still we can see reluctance in many students to write, make notes and to use writing as a process through which thinking and understanding are developed, which become more and more important as our children move from school to university and into work.

Conscientiousness: The efforts that we put in to teach children read, speak and write, we need to put enough efforts to help our children to become conscientious. Conscientiousness comes when the value of doing something well and the purpose of practicing it is understood. It also comes when personal responsibility is taken to achieve targets that you have set yourself . Like many of life’s important lessons, conscientiousness is something that needs to be learned over time rather than taught. To help children become conscientious we need to give them experience that happen over enough time for them to practice delaying their gratification. No one can learn to be conscientious by being given things or being rewarded for achievements they found easy or did not actually do for themselves. If we allow ourselves to protect them from trying and failing then we also inhibit their capacity to grow their conscientiousness and self-efficiency. Encourage your children to try or speak up and make sure they are not developing fear of failure.
I hope you will keep these suggestions in mind and enjoy parenting while setting the foundations to make your child a winner in life.

John Mohammad Bhat is an Edu-preneur and Director Shemford School, Kralpora Kupwara

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