Tips for Parents
- Talk and sing to and with your child while bathing, dressing, riding in the car, preparing for bed or for meals.
- In order to nurture a love of language, parents need to speak to children long before they can talk. Reading to babies helps lay the foundation for knowing the letters of the alphabet and simple words long before they go to school. There is no doubt about it; the key to learning, both in school years and in life, is language.
- Sometimes parents may have reading difficulty, but talking to children, telling them family stories and picture “reading” can bring language to the child and send a message that language is valued in the home.
- Listening is the most basic of the language arts. All babies should have their hearing tested because hearing impairments not detected early can cause great harm to the language development of a child.
- Language learning comes from the dynamic exchange, the taking turns, elaborating and asking questions, which occur when adults and older children talk in front of the young child. Children do not learn much just by watching television or listening to a radio. They need to watch with adults and adults need to talk to and with them about the program.
- Children can easily be overwhelmed, so pick a few, but very important, rules to emphasize. As children grow older and independent, the rules change, but the order that rules bring to life does not.
- Celebrating your child’s accomplishments is extremely important and fun! The verbal rewards children receive immediately after they have accomplished a milestone, such as recognizing their names in print, actually stimulate their brains to do even more.
- Parents have to be careful not to reward their child unless the achievement is real and the child has to extend some effort to actually accomplish the task. A child who feels he can do anything but really does not have the skills, is a child who is not prepared for school or life.
- All children, by the age of three or four, need to experience some group situations to help prepare them for school.
- There are many ways for young children to experience social situations such as mother’s day out programs, faith-based instruction, neighborhood play dates, childcare centers and home-based programs.
Daycare / Early Education:
- For parents considering placing their children in an early childhood education center, childcare or day care, an appointment with the center director and tour of the program is in order before a decision is made regarding enrollment. Requesting a parent handbook is a good way to learn about the program.
- A program like Head Start involves parents in various activities and supports them as they become the primary advocates for their children.
- Checklist for Quality Childcare Programs
- When you visit the center, is it clean and free of unpleasant odors?
- Is the state licensing certificate posted or available for parents to inspect?
- What activities are the teachers doing with the children?
- Is the child’s work displayed at his eye level around the room?
- Are there lots of books available for children to read and examine?
- Is the room set up in areas of learning where there are art materials, literacy materials, manipulatives like puzzles and blocks available for children to use?
- Does the daily schedule reflect a balance of activities so children rest as well as play indoors and outdoors?
- Can parents visit the center anytime of the day without having to call first?
- How do the teachers respond to the children? Do they respond quickly to a distressed child, or do they spend a great deal of time on the telephone or watching television?
- Do the teachers show patience in working with the children, or do they show frustration and anger when interacting with them?
- Do they send out parent communication forms and newsletters so parents can be informed of the events of the child’s day?
- What are the teachers’ educational credentials? Do they participate in staff development programs pertinent to the age of the children they are teaching on an on-going basis?
- How many children are in a room with a teacher? (The fewer children per teacher, the better chances are that the teacher can spend more time with the children in learning activities.)
- While some parents feel it is better to hold their child back from starting kindergarten even though he is old enough to attend, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that he will do better later, unless he has extreme problems or is exceptionally immature.
- Children who show problems in one area of learning often have strengths in other areas. Parents must not dwell on the weaknesses, but use the strengths in helping their child.
- School is only one part of the learning experience. The real center of learning is in the home.
- Parent Checklist for Making the Home the Center of Learning:
- Does your home look like children live in it? EX: Children’s art work displayed on the refrigerator or wall?
- Do you spend time reading to your children every day?
- Do you play word and vocabulary building games with your children during short trips around town or at home during bath time or other designated times?
- Do you take your children for trips in or out of town for the purpose of showing them new things and learning about something different?
- Do you allow your children to ask questions and engage them in conversation about what they see or hear on television or in their interactions with other children or adults?
- Do you have a routine that is followed so children know when to expect basic things such as eating, bathing, and bedtime to happen?
- Do you have basic rules you expect your children to follow? Do you fairly discipline them according to the degree of their disobedience?
- Do you provide your children with paper, pencils, and crayons so they can draw and write about things that they see and feel?
- Do you treat other family members with respect and, if disagreements arise, handle them in a non-violent manner?
- Do you explain to your children when you make a mistake so they will know it is okay for them to mess up, too?
- Do you show affection toward your children and other family members?
- Do you show how you value education by your words and actions?
Take Care of Yourself:
- Get plenty of rest – even if it means delaying cleaning the house or washing a load of clothes. Fatigue can impair judgment and make us less patient.
Sources for Early Learning Tips
Going to School: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers of School-Age Children, written by Dr. Cathy Grace and produced by Mississippi Public Broadcasting 2003
Mississippi State Extension Service