Sunday, December 22, 2013

Give children the gift of your time and attention

There are tremendous benefits for children who attend high quality preschool programs; "they learn better, behave better, live healthier and earn more for the rest of their lives." These findings come from the 1962-67 Perry Preschool Project study that followed children in the programs through the decades and into their 40’s.

However we also know that the benefits from a preschool education are often lost without a loving, caring, and academically supportive household. Whatever the level of education or income of a parent, they can support their child’s development by nurturing them with love, attention and experiences that encourage learning.

One of the best ways to give children the attention they need is to read and talk with them. Stories are how children try the world on for size, see who they are at a moment in time and see who they might become. Inside the experience of reading is a reading relationship that comes into being when parents talk with children about the story, talk with them about what matters. The currency of that relationship is the love, tenderness and affection children receive when we give them our attention in this way.

Every parent wants the best for their child and engaging with children through conversation about what matters is how parents protect and nurture their children, both intellectually and emotionally.

Think about giving your child and you the gift of a trip to the library along with a snack while you read and talk together. That gift offers a lifelong memory  and will not be forgotten or discarded.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Parents can help children cope with bullies

I am in favor of whatever it takes to combat bullying. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle spoke of how schoolyard bullies have been around forever, but the advent of social networks have made the problem much larger. Parents can play an important role in preparing children to resist being bullied and becoming a bully by talking with them about the subject.

There is no better way to gain empathy and understanding than by stepping into the shoes of a person inside a story. Parents reading to children and talking with them about bullying is an integral part of the solution.  Parents need to have those conversations before a child becomes a bully, a bystander that allows bullying, or the victim of bullying. It is better to have those conversations before they are needed.

Some conversation starters:
Are you born a bully?
~Do boys and girls bully in the same way?
~Why does a person become a bully?
~Where do you learn to be a bully?
~Did you ever meet a happy bully?
~Do bullies have genuine friends?

What we choose not to talk about with our children is their lifelong burden. I believe information is power and the more opportunities children have to talk with responsible adults about subjects that matter, the better off they will be. Parents having these conversations with their children can help their child navigate an often complicated and not so nice world. That is just one of the many job descriptions of a good parent.

Monday, December 9, 2013

If a book is good for you to read at 5, it is good to read at 50.

A recent article in the WSJ drew attention to gorwn-ups reading Children’s books. I don’t think it is any secret that a good book for children is a good book at any age —as C.S. Lewis said: If a book is good for you to read at 5, it is good to read at 50.  But there is a big benefit when children and adults together engage in reading a book. When parents talk with children about a book they are part of a reading relationship.

The currency of a reading relationship is love, affection and tenderness and become part of a child’s emotional DNA. A reading relationship fosters the emotional connections children need to thrive and forever changes the experience of reading. Parents who read and talk about a story with children feel more connected to their children and more satisfied in their role as a parent.
Reading is not simply the interaction of the child with a book. Intimacy and closeness are communicated while you are talking about a book and are the heart of the Reading Relationship, which every child deserves to experience. 

If readers bring books to life, conversations that happen inside a reading relationship bring readers to life.