Thursday, October 17, 2013

Education Is Very Important for Your Little Star (Part 3)

This is the last installment of the three part interview Oma conducted with the founder of Little Stars Academy of Temecula. This is a must read as Jessica’s advice is both prolific and profound!
See Part 1 here
See Part 2 here


Question Three of Three:

Oma: Is there any advice you have for a first time Oma and Opa? What can a grandparent do to prepare their grandkids for school?

Jessica: The advice that I would give to any parent or grandparent to help prepare a child for school is to NEVER EVER think that it is too early to start educating your child. As soon as a baby is born they are ready to learn and I have seen so many times that if you wait until they are 5 to try to teach them it is too late!!!

Talk to your child. What? Crazy you say but I actually had kids in my class who I could tell had never really been talked to by their parents. I talked to my son all the time as a baby. Did he answer me? Nope but it filled the hours when we were alone in the house together. J And guess what? When he started talking not only did his vocabulary grow on a daily basis but he spoke in complete sentences. This is so important. When you ask your child a question like “Would you like some milk?” Please expect an answer like “Yes mommy I would like some milk”. Just yes or a nod is not acceptable. Expect them to talk and they will learn to talk. Give them everything without having to speak and they won’t learn to speak. It is so simple.

As for baby talk…just don’t do it. When your child is learning to talk and says a word wrong, politely tell them the right way and move on. Don’t harp on it but don’t ignore it because you think it is cute. Bad habitats are hard to break! We all know this. My husband and I have been asking our son the same question every night since as soon as he could talk. We ask him, “What was your favorite part of the day?” I love the answers that come out of his mouth. Sometimes it is just as I would expect, Going to Disneyland or playing at the park and then sometimes it is what I would consider the most insignificant part of the day like going to the store and then there is the all-time favorite “Spending the day with you!”. You and the people who you allow the privilege of spending time with your child become their first teachers so choose wisely.

Read to your children! Read to them a lot. Make it part of your daily/nightly routine as soon as they are born and it will become a habitat that sticks. My bookcase of children’s books was full before my son was born because it is just that important. Children have to hear stories in order to learn how to read. It is just that simple. Maybe you say okay fine but what do I read? My first recommendation would be to read rhyming books. The ability to rhyme is a strong predictor for success as a reader because kids who can rhyme truly understand the way words work and that makes them good readers. My second recommendation for books to read to your child are books that you get enjoyment out of which means you need to read it before you buy it. Did you like it? Did you enjoy reading it? The more into the story you get, the better the child will like it. When your child is old enough to talk you need to ask them about the story and just talk about what happened. Just doing that is HUGE!

Give kids exposure to new experiences. You do not need money to do this. Visit the park, grocery store, museum, or anywhere really and set out to make it a learning experience. Comment on the birds you see or the color of the clouds. It really doesn’t matter what you are doing. Maybe getting the tires changed on the car, you could talk about how a car has four tires. Lets count them, 1, 2, 3, 4 then compare…a motorcycle only has 2. Exposure to letters, print, and numbers is important. If you are going to watch TV make it educational and watch it with them to a certain extent. TV can be great to put on while you are making dinner but you better know what that TV is saying to them. If you are hoping it is teaching them something then you need to at least follow up and say “So what was the letter of the day on Sesame Street today?”

These are things that grandparents and parents can do but you know what I love most about what grandparents can give to their grandkids is a stress free environment full of love. Life can get busy for parents when they have bills to pay, kids to take care of, houses to clean, jobs to maintain, and more and kids feel all of that. What I love most about when my son is with his grandparents is that he doesn’t have to feel any of that. They put everything aside for my little boy and just make him feel loved. They say Yes I will play with you now, read to you, or go on a walk with you. Spoil them….definitely but not with toys or gifts….with love and attention. Being with grandparents should feel safe like a home away from home. Grandparents need to share their stories and experiences with their grandkids so they learn their values as well as those of their parents. Kids learn life lessons through experiences and the more they have with quality people the better off they will be!

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