In addition to doing homework, your children should spend time reading not only with you, but also on their own. If a child finds pleasure in reading, it will become a lifelong habit.
Let Your Children See You Reading
If your children see you reading regularly, there is a good chance that they will follow your lead and sit down with a book themselves. Set aside some time to talk with them about what each of you is reading. If you have been regularly reading aloud to your children, by school age they’ll probably want to read aloud to you, too!
Talk About Your Day
Find time to talk with your children about your respective days—including what they did at school. Even on a night when you are particularly busy, you should still be able to find a time and place to talk. This gives your children a chance to re-teach you what they learned that day.
Encourage Art & Writing
It is great for children to write and/or draw without any educational purpose in mind other than to express themselves. For example, you can encourage your children to write original stories, cards, letters, and invitations to friends and relatives. Keep paper, pencils, crayons, markers, and tape in a convenient location so your children can sit down and use them easily. Research has shown that writing improves a child’s reading skills—and vice versa.
Plan One-on-One Time
Plan some activities that you can do with your child—such as an art project. Keep phone call interruptions and media use to a minimum during this special time. Make it a time you are spending with each other. Some children say they wish they could call their parents on the phone, because a phone call or mobile device always gets first priority. See Parents of Young Children: Put Down Your Smartphones.
Use Caution with “Educational” Apps
Even though tablets, computer games, and apps are advertised as “educational,” the truth is most of them have not been tested to show that children actually learn from them. They teach very basic skills, so don’t assume an “interactive” game will be a good learning experience. Children learn better through creative playtime—where their brain takes the lead, not the app or computer game.
More Suggestions for Parents
- Put a map on the wall in your child’s bedroom and refer to it frequently. You might ask, “Where does Aunt Linda live?” or “Can you find the city where the President lives?” You can also use the map to talk about history, especially around a historical holiday.
- Have a family calendar where you can teach your child to plan ahead and stay organized.
- Take your children to your local library and get each of them a library card. Because they use the school library frequently, most children almost instinctively feel at home when they go to the local library.
- Find community activities that are pure fun. Despite their recreational nature, these activities can still be viewed as providing support for what is being taught in school. They will broaden your children’s experiences and give them something new to write about.
- Try reinforcing your child’s health education at school by making healthy food choices when you shop. No matter what is taught in the classroom and served in the school cafeteria, your children will be influenced more by watching your own food selections. Actively involving your children in the cooking process—reading recipes and measuring ingredients—can reinforce nutrition education.
- Schedule some weekend or after-school activities that are appropriate for the entire family. Swimming, tennis, bicycle riding, and skiing are some of the sports that children can participate in for their entire lives—long after they have left school. Do not overlook walking as a perfect way for the family to enjoy physical activity together. Studies now show that the more children exercise, the better they focus!
Source: Council on Communications and Media (Copyright © 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.