We live in a knowledge based economy and literacy skills are our basic currency. That fact alone should make parents sit up and take notice. We live in times where job availability is based on what you know, how fast you can learn new skills and the knowledge train is picking up speed.
What are the fundamental skills parents should focus on before, during and after their children enter school?
- We know that children who enter kindergarten with a basic knowledge of letters, the letter names and the corresponding sounds become better readers and thus face fewer academic challenges. Reading is a foundational skill that makes all other learning possible. Yup, it just that important!
- Critical thinking skills are paramount and will often separate average students from those who excel. Taking an active roll in helping kids to “connect the dots” will further assist in developing critical thinking skills. This is not as difficult to do as parents might think. Children are naturally inquisitive and constantly ask questions. When children ask questions they are typically exploring their surroundings and environment and trying to figure out how things relate to one another. So, instead of getting frustrated by the questions use them as teachable moments. For example if they ask, “Why a tree is green?”, return the question to them and ask them why they think it is green. Make sure you guide them through the answer and only give them as much detail as they want. (No sense giving them a chemistry lesson at age three, unless of course, they want one.) Often we can encourage this type of thinking if we remember to ask them, “What else to you know about trees or things that are green?” Well developed thinking skills leads to being able to think outside of the box. This is definitely a skill that will become increasingly necessary.
- Effective communication skills will serve them well throughout their lives so help them develop good ones. Teaching children how to speak properly as well as how to listen effectively are skills that are also fundamental to learning. Teaching them how to form thoughts, ask questions and summarize information will be invaluable to them as they go through school and on into their future careers.
Your child’s school years can be incredibly rewarding provided you have done some ground work and continue to take an active role in their education. Just because they are not in school doesn’t mean they are not learning. You can use a trip to the gas station or the grocery store and an incredible learning environment if you put some thought into it.
Some words of advice: Make sure you know what your child’s reading ability is and do not delay if they show signs of a reading/learning difficulty. There is nothing worse than having to watch your child’s self-esteem decrease to a level where they stop believing in themselves!
At Engaged Educators, we offer a no cost, no obligation reading assessment for all children. (Victoria, BC or Calgary, AB) service.