"Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life."
- Mark Twain
Well, we are on the downhill side of the summer, time to get the kids ready to go back to school in a fun and casual way.
Is this your child's first school year? Are you really nervous or anxious about the separation? Children are very good at picking up how you feel. Decide you will be calm. Remember, you will color how your child feels about school. Listening and following directions will be much easier if your child approaches school with a positive attitude, eager to learn - no matter what the grade.
Before a child enters Kindergarten, he should know his name, address, phone number and how to use a telephone. Important pre-reading skills are recognizing and naming shapes, letters (not necessarily in alphabetical order), numbers and colors. Don't make this a drill or a drag, make it a game. For instance, when riding in a car, see who can find an A, or a circle or something blue.
Reading to children is probably the single most important activity you can do with them. Reading is the basis of all learning. Right up there with reading to your child is reading yourself. Children won't believe that reading is fundamental to learning, if they never see you reading. Occasionally, pick an evening to shut off the television to read and play games. This is key to putting their little minds in gear, sharpening their skills.
While it is important to teach your child about the privacy of his or her own body, and to be careful about strangers - please don't scare them with all the horrible possibilities. You don't want to cripple their emotional growth (remember a very high percentage -75%-85% -- of children are abused by friends or family members, not strangers). A little helpful hint - don't paint or embroider your child's name on their jacket or backpack.
If your child is older, reading is still very important. Have fun with fractions. Can your child cut a candy bar in half or an orange in quarters? I'm sure they know what a quarter is, help them to see that 25 cents is one-fourth of a dollar. Make it informal.
To learn what a community is (probably 2nd or 3rd grade topic), visit city hall, a park, a store (ask employees what they do there and why), a church, an area of apartments, small homes, large homes, a newspaper or any business you may have access to. Visit the city, the country, the ocean, a lake and the mountains. Ask the kids to tell you what is alike and what is different. Visit a farm, a pet store or the zoo and name the animals. Make ice cream or butter at home. Have them write a story about their experience.
Feed your child's natural curiosity. It's awesome to let them have hands-on experiences - not just sitting in front of the television or a computer absorbing random pieces of information. Let your children visit your job and see what you do to earn money for your family, how you have responsibilities to your family and they have responsibilities as well.
Have a fun summer and remember to READ!
Virginia Stiles can be reached through the Sunrise Children's Foundation at 702-731-8373 www.sunrisechildren.org