Parental advise about educating our kids - Articles from children's book author Lance Waite

Advises and parental related articles written by children's book author Lance Waite.
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Educating our Kids - for fathers

How many of you remember your parents ever helping you with your homework? I don't remember having that luxury myself, but in today's educational world it is a must to simply get by. As parents, the very best way to ensure the success of our children in school is to sit down with them and help them with their homework. Now, I don't mean give them the answers, but showing your willingness to spend that extra time each day with them. Helping them to understand the importance of repetition and studying every day. At a young age it is about forming the habits that will carry them through their doctorate (we hope).

So where do we start as parents? The best way is to set aside the time each day to sit down with them and walk through each question, each assignment and teach them to carefully read the directions, or if they aren't reading yet, help them with how they can determine on their own what is being asked from each problem. For the little ones, the important part is to not allow them to be distracted while keeping it fun for them. Make sure that they don't struggle too much with how to solve a problem or figure out what is being asked. The emphasis at this age (preschool through first grade) should be to "guide" them through the process and allow them to figure out as much as they can on their own. This stage is really all about 1) time they get to spend with you 2) building up their confidence 3) learning the specifics of each assignment and it really should be in that order of importance.

Teaching our kids to read is probably the single most important role of parents at home. Our children are not going to learn to read in a few hours at school every day. They are going to need lots of practice at home to keep them up to speed with what is expected in modern day education.

So, when should we start teaching our kids to read and how do we start this process? There are many books that can guide parents through this process and can be found at any local book store. The basic starting point should be in preschool at about the age of 3 years old (earlier if your child shows signs of being ready, particularly with learning the alphabet). Parents at home should be teaching them the alphabet by this time and to get them started reading, we need to first teach them the sound each letter makes.

We pasted the entire alphabet on the walls of our kid's rooms and every night before bed we would say the whole alphabet. As time passes and they get that wired, we would start simply pointing at letters to see how many they knew by sight only. We used capitals and lower case letters and each letter was carefully written on its own 8 x 11 sheet of paper and taped to the wall.

The next step was to review with them the sounds that each letter produces. Once they have this stage pretty well figured out, they are ready to start reading short words with you. Setting up a list of "sight" words (words with 3 letters or less) and working on expanding the list over time is a great way to graduate into reading small sentences and books. As you get into this stage, be sure to help them a lot with the words they don't know. It can be frustrating sometimes, because they may know the word in one sentence and forget it by the very next sentence. This is normal. It is critical NOT to get, or show your frustration at this stage because it will hurt their self confidence. If they don't get a word within 10 to 15 seconds, help them by sounding out each letter with them and rolling the letters together to form the sound of the whole word. Mark their progress by picking up in a book the next night where they left off the night before and point out that they finished the previous portion. Reassuring them that they are making progress is critical to their confidence and confidence is critical to their success.

As parents, it would be nice if there was a short class that we could take to walk through these and many other teaching skills we will need to give our kids the best chance possible at a great education. I think the improvement of our educational system may need to start with programs designed to help educate the parents about what is expected of them at home and classes in teaching them how to teach their children.


Lance Waite

Children's book author.



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