What a Child Can Learn Through Reading

Through books, a child is taken from the confines of their reading area and into the world of a writer’s imagination. They can walk through a land far away, fly through a cloudy sky, or experience life that is different from their own. I have often written that we read as an escape from our ordinary lives. But for a moment I want to revisit one of readings fundamental aspects; reading is a teaching tool. And for children’s reading, the teaching is often under the surface or in the background. Without a child realizing it, they are learning.

How to Do Things

Reading can be a great way for our children to learn things. Or at the least, it can give them a springboard to ask questions about learning to do things. Through a character they read about, a child is introduced to the experiences and abilities in which they may have an interest. The day to day lives of a storybook character can cause a young reader to want to live that life. So, they try to act out what they read. Through this process, they learn valuable lessons about what they can do, and what they cannot do; at least yet. Books like Harold and the Purple Crayon give a child eager anticipation to draw. Unfortunately, your hallway may need to be wiped down a few times before they learn drawing goes on paper. This eagerness to experiment can lead to bigger things like in All By Myself. The main character of this story is learning about growing up. It’s about his adventure of trying to brush his hair and pour a glass of juice on his own. Growing up is going to happen, and reading is a great avenue for children to explore and ask questions about life in general. When they see characters doing things that they haven’t learned yet, it gives them a desire to attempt to do those things. And the opportunity for us to guide them in doing them properly.

How to Interact with Others

This attitude of curiosity is not only applicable to trying new things; it can attribute to a child’s behavior. If a character in a story is using good manners, then those behaviors can be picked up by a young reader. You as a parent can also use that character’s actions to bring about a change of behavior in a child, especially when the child admires the character. For instance, Olivia is very respectful in how she communicates with adults. She is also friendly with others and likes to share. These examples can be pointed out to your child to emulate, which will help them as they get older and move into the schooling years and have to deal with other people. Interaction with others is one of the most significant issues when it comes to making the transition from being at home all day and starting school. Stories about sharing and helping others can help that awkward transition a bit easier. There are many children’s books out there that tackle the first day of school and all the emotions that surround it; the anxiety of meeting new people, fear of not being liked, the sadness of being away from a parent, and the nervousness of having to learn. Reading a good book can prepare a child for human interaction outside of the family circle they have grown accustomed to.

How to View the World

It is all about perspective. Books give a glimpse into a character’s life. We are introduced to someone and given their characteristics. Those details can tell us about how they view the world around them. Books will often take a character through a series of events that will cause a change in the character that will affect their worldview. Often it is from a negative outlook of life to a positive view through a certain event that occurs. An unhappy character finds joy. A mean character finds the ability to be nice. Bullying is a terrible thing for a child to face. Especially at a young age. But it is inevitable, at some point your child will face a bullying situation. The question is, what side will the child be on? Will they be the one who is being bullied, a witness to someone being pushed around and made fun of, or will they be the instigator? In each instance, believe it or not, reading can teach a child how to deal with these situations. Again, there are a plethora of children’s books that deal with this subject and how to handle it. Allow a child to be prepared by reading some of them.

How to View Themselves

How a child views the world and how they see themselves often go hand in hand. A child with a poor worldview can often feel isolated and afraid. A positive view of the external can leave their head lifted high and more confident about themselves. However, a personal view goes beyond the covers of a book. If a child’s self-esteem is crushed by a parent or someone close to them, then no book in print can overcome such obstacles. But that is another blog entirely. Just understand that in a positive environment, a good book will reinforce positive teaching. Stories like The Ugly Duckling and The Ugly Five all teach about uniqueness and loving yourself for who you are. Tacky the Penguin and Giraffes Can’t Dance show a child they can be who they are in spite of what others say; that being different has its advantages. Through a book, a child can learn that it’s okay to be smart, silly, or own an imaginary dragon. They can see a variety of characters with what some would see as disadvantages and how they view themselves in a positive light. We have used the example of The Little Engine that Could before. After other engines find excuses for not wanting to pull a load of toys up a difficult hill, one small engine takes on the challenge. She believed that even though she was small that she could do what she sets her heart out to do. That confidence allows her to succeed at the immense task in front of her. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… I thought I could, I thought I could, I thought I could.” Stories like this, with proper adult guidance, will challenge a child into believing they can do anything if they have the determination to do it.

Final Thoughts 

As a child travels through the adventures of a book, lessons are learned. Every book has a premise or an expected outcome after reading it. Teaching a child about making friends, tying one’s shoes, and believing they can be whatever they choose to be, are important life lessons in their progression to becoming an adult. It is a great thing that literature helps reinforce the lessons we are verbally teaching our children. We can use the stories our kids read as examples of good behavior and the consequences of poor decisions. As you open the pages of the story you read to your child tonight, or the book they read to you, ask yourself, “What is the lesson this book is teaching, and how can I use it to help my child grow?”

About the AuthorJeff S Bray

Jeff is a writer with a passion for God that comes through in everything he writes. A local First Baptist member and truck driver he loves to create works that glorify God.  In addition to his freelance work, Jeff has written a series of books called the Elissa the Curious Snail series which helps parents introduce basic faith concepts like prayer, even in the face of adversity, into their teachings in a fun and entertaining way. No faithful home with children or grandchildren should be without a copy. See my books at www.elissathecurioussnail.com

Keeping Your Child Reading Through the Summer Months

Just because it is Summertime, it does not mean that it is time to put the books away and have a three-month break from learning. Education is a year-round activity. Studies have shown that children can lose some of what they learned during the summer months. This is why the first few weeks of school is always review. This is taxing on teachers who want to get to the new stuff. It is also partially why many schools are choosing to have year-round schooling; to help children continue learning and not forget things from previous years.

During the summer, with family vacations, camps, and overall education burnout, it can become easy to neglect reading. Unless you have an established reading plan already in place, chances are the likelihood your child will pick up a book during the summer are slim to none. This is where we as parents need to be involved. But we don’t have to do it alone. There are many summer programs that your child can become engaged in that will encourage them in their reading and help keep their minds sharp through August.

Talk to Your Child’s Teacher

The first person to contact should be your child’s teacher. In fact, most of the time in the final weeks of school, your child may bring home a flyer for different reading recommendations that are available to you. From a guide to prepare your child for the next grade to a list of books or programs, the resources are available to give your child the ability to continue learning.

Most of the suggestions will be for websites that have information about Summer Reading programs. Many of these will be at a location like a library; your school may even have a program they offer. Online courses are also available. Some do charge a fee, however, if you shop around you can find one that will be in your price range.

Visit the Local Library

There is no better place to learn about reading programs than your local library. They host a variety of different events to boost your child’s interest in reading through the summer. They have days dedicated to certain topics, authors, or genres. Each grade level will have a different day, or time, that they will meet. Once there, they will engage in activities like learning games, story time, and of course lots of reading. If your child is lucky, they could even meet the author of a favorite children’s book.

Libraries have worked hard to make these events more like playtime than school time. Our local library has a weekly event that in addition to promoting reading, they will have a theme for that week. One week will be about Science, another week they will be about music, and yet another about magic and mystery. And that is just three weeks. Check out your library’s website for the options they have for your little one.

Develop Something on Your Own

If either of those are not available to you, you could develop something on your own. This is where a Book Fair can help. You can prepare for the summer months by stocking up on books for your child to read. These won’t be like textbooks; they chose these books themselves. You could also visit a library or bookstore to obtain a stash of books. Either way, the point is to keep your child engaged.

Another good option would be to purchase an eReader. This makes reading available with just the click of a button. If you have a library card then you can digitally check out books, then you would have an endless supply of material from which to choose. This will be beneficial if your child starts a book and doesn’t like it. It is much easier than going back to a physical library or store to make a return.

Those lists that come home at the end of the year could provide you with some ideas as well. Our child’s school sent us a flyer about reading programs, but in addition, that flier told us what to expect for our soon-to-be fourth grader. They tell us that fourth grade is somewhat of a transition year. They will be introduced to textbooks. In a couple of years, she will be in Jr. High and will have to draw on what she will learn next year. So, this summer we can begin to help her get prepared for what she will experience this fall.

Final Thoughts

I know, just because your kids get a Summer doesn’t mean that you receive the same threemonth break. You still have to go towork, come home and cook dinner, and still have the mounds of laundry that need to be done. Come June, parents often take a breath and put school away with the backpacks until they get the Wal-Mart ad in August promoting Back-to-School sales. Only then do we start to look at what the next year holds.

Your child doesn’t have to go through the valleys of forgetting what happened last year. Reading keeps your child’s mind sharp. It helps them to grow. It will put them in a better position going into the next year than a child who spent their summer in front of the TV or with a controller in their hands.

It’s all about developing a hunger to read in them. This begins young, but when that hunger is established, it will be fun to read for your young reader. Katie DiCamillo, author of such books as Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux is quoted, “Reading should not be presented to children as a chore, a duty. It should be offered as a gift.” Once that gift is acknowledged you will find yourself telling your son or daughter that it’s time to put the book down and get some sleep.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” -Dr. Seuss

How Children’s Reading has Changed from When You Were a Kid

When we look around at kids today, the popularity of anything electronic can be easily identified. From smartphones to iPods. From smart watches to the e-reader, the world is suffering from technology overload, and the only question is; What comes next?

The world has changed from when you and I were growing up. I grew up in an age where going outside was not a punishment, and you could always identify where the gang was by where the bicycles were at. There were no electronic devices that occupied our attention; video games just barely became popular. Using the imagination was a must to have any fun at all, and books were the triggering mechanism that unlocked the mind’s eye into worlds unknown.

Just like video games and playing with friends has changed over the years, so has the dissemination of anything that has to do with reading. Hardbacks and paperbacks are now tiny downloadable files that require no physical storage space at all. The definition of carrying your books around with you is no longer about the size of your book bag, but about the size of your internal storage. And finding your favorite book has become much easier.

Face it, reading has undergone a dramatic change since we were kids. It’s one of those, “back when I was your age…” stories we plan to tell the younger generation. And it all began with Mr. Dewey.

Reading 30 Years Ago

If you weren’t searching for a book in your school’s library or waiting for the Book Fair from Scholastic, you were visiting a local library. Schools even orchestrated field trips to the local library. When in High School, if your project required research and your school library did not have what you were looking for, you needed to go to the city library to check out a book on your subject.

“Check out a book?” You may ask.

Back in the day when you wanted to read a book you needed to go to the library. However, they did not have fancy signs over each section. They were labeled in the most peculiar way. It was a filing system that involved a series of numbers. These numbers were written on index cards with a brief description of the book it was attached to. These cards were filed in numerical order in long rectangular drawers, part of a much larger filing cabinet with many of these drawers.

To find the book you had to be familiar with the system. Each format of the book had a three-digit classification. That was split into subclasses that were separated by a decimal. For instance, if you wanted to find If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff your Dewey decimal would be 813.54 NUM; 800 is the Literature Class, 13 narrows it down to American/Canadian Fiction. The .54 further pinpoints it to 20th Century, 1945-1999. Then the NUM is the Author’s first three letters of her last name. This number is fixed and unless the system changes it will remain this way. Once you found the correct card in the catalog index box, you had to write down the number then look through the shelves to locate the same number which was attached to the spine of the book.

Crazy, right?

Reading 20 Years Ago

Remember walking through the mall and seeing a B. Dalton bookstore? Advertisements for the latest blockbuster with a picture of the cover and a life-size cardboard cutout of the Author stood out in the entry display. The stores were rather small with a limited selection, that is until the birth of the superstore brought on by the purchase of B. Dalton by the most popular chain out there; Barnes and Noble in the late 90s.

The birth of the Book Super Store brought in a new era for reading. With the library, you could only check it out; then you had to return it by the two-week due date. In a bookstore, you could buy the book and keep it. There were no forms to fill out and no waiting period for the Scholastic delivery. It was close to instant access for those who loved reading.

When Barnes and Noble noticed the growing popularity of coffee houses, they partnered with Starbucks Coffee. Even now you will not likely see a Barnes and Noble Bookstore without a Starbucks attached to it. You can buy your book, then sit at a table, or even comfy chairs, and enjoy a hot beverage as you read the latest book by your favorite author.

Reading Today

Today, it may seem the Book Superstore is on the decline. With technology advances, eBooks are becoming more popular. Amazon came out with one of the first mainstream E-readers, the Kindle, in 2008. Barnes and Noble released their Nook in 2010. Both were extremely popular and still are. Although if you have an advanced enough smartphone, you can download both e-reader applications and read books from your phone.

Even the bookstore has changed. E-readers have access to local libraries and major booksellers, like Barnes and Noble. These are also downloadable applications that with a membership, give you instant access to many books. Not only is it more convenient than having to visit a brick and mortar store, the book is often cheaper because of the cost of printing.

Even with the popularity of reading devices and mobile applications, something has got to be said about having a physical book in front of you. Especially for a child. You see many kids nowadays walking around with electronic devices; they are growing up without knowing what a book looks like, feels like, or smells like. You know what I’m talking about. Who doesn’t like the smell of a new book? You cannot get that from an electronic device.

It is kind of sad really, many of the beloved books we grew up on are no longer stored on shelves of a bookcase, but files on the hard drive of a mobile device. But to have a book to turn the pages physically; to open, close. And set it down without the worry of battery loss, has drifted off to somewhere in the past. Yep, it is definitely a different world than what we grew up in.

Final Thoughts

Technology does have a positive aspect; the world of reading is literally at our fingertips. Nearly every book imaginable is available with just a click of a mouse or a tap on the screen. The only limit is how large the internal storage is on your device. And even that issue can be solved with a cloud-based file system that will only download the book you are currently reading.

With technology seeming to take over, do not neglect the personal advantages of having a hard copy on hand. Books can be a bonding experience between an adult and a child. A book that was read to you by your parent or grandparent, you can read to your child or grandchild. Ebooks are handy yes, but you never have to recharge a physical book. And when the power goes out in your home, and you’ve forgotten to charge your device, you can always grab a flashlight and thumb through Where the Wild Things Are with your little one.

How to Pick the Right Book for Your Young Reader

There is nothing that compares to a Book Fair for a child. You quickly become aware that it is Book Fair season, and you will know it even before your child buckles themselves into the car. They dig through their backpack, pulling out that ever familiar brochure with Scholastic written in bright red across the front. “Can I buy a book?” They ask. Some of the time they will already know what they want.  As you peruse the catalog, you see that every other book is check marked. You know they can’t have it all, so how do you pick the right book for your child?

There are three major factors to consider when book shopping for your young reader: something that is age appropriate, that meets their ability to read, that lines up with their interests.

Their Age

Your child will judge a book by its cover. If the picture grabs their attention, chances are they will want to buy the book. But just because a cover photo is attractive, doesn’t mean that your child will be able to read the book. A seven-year-old may have enjoyed the Harry Potter movies and may get excited when they see a book with Harry on the cover, but that type of book will not be an easy read for a child.

The same thing goes for simpler reads. There may be a cute unicorn on the cover of a book, but an eight-year-old would be too far advanced if that book were only a sight word family book. A good book needs to fit their age range. Some of the book order forms will break down the books available in age brackets. Even if they don’t, you can visit the Book Fair website and research different books there.

Their Ability

The ability to read a book is different than a book that is age appropriate. Since the way of learning varies from child to child, the ability to get through certain books can be a challenge. Yes, schools try and keep all children on the same level, but we both know that is not always the case. At every teacher conference, you are given what reading level your child is at. You are also shown what the reading level goal is for the end of the year. The teacher lays out a plan to help your reader reach that goal. It is up to you as the parent to work with the teacher to accomplish that goal.

If you select a book that is too easy, then your child will never grow. If the book is too complicated, they will become frustrated and may give up. The idea is to find a book that is right in the middle of the road while trying to adhere to the reading level that you are shooting for. Keep in mind that it is okay to challenge your child. In fact, it is imperative that you challenge a child. Without a little difficult, your child cannot develop the ability to dig within themselves and discover that they can do it.

Their Interests

This is the easy part. You are usually always aware of what your child’s interests are. You can see it from the toys in their room, the posters on their wall, and the comforter on their bed. It is easy to assume they would enjoy books about those characters. With the way that companies market their product, books are in abundance. If a book fair does not carry a particular item, there are scads of websites that will. Even the local library will most likely have what you are searching for.

Just as it is important to challenge your child when reading, it is also imperative that you keep an open mind to your child’s interests. Don’t snuff out their excitement for a particular topic. Just because you do not enjoy a subject, doesn’t mean that you have to force your interests on them. Allow them to be who they are. Encourage them to explore what’s out there. You will never know where a child’s interests will take them.

Final Thoughts

Books are more than learning tools. You have found that yourself through the books that you read. You don’t read them to learn; you read them to escape. Your days are filled with your bosses demands, stacks of bills, and an endless list of errands to run. A good book is a great way to temporarily get away from life’s responsibilities and recharge.

Sometimes children need that same escape. While not as stressful, their lives can be tough. They too need to escape into another world, just as you do. With so many books out there, there is sure to be one world that your child will love to envelop themselves in. Whether it be dreaming about fame in the suburbs of Plainview, walking the halls of Cherrydale Elementary, or laughing along with the Cat in the Hat, there is a world just waiting to grab your child’s attention.

The post How to Pick the Right Book for Your Young Reader appeared first on IsabellaBookStore.com.

I live in a small town in South Central Texas with my wife Carolyn and our four children. We attend the local First Baptist Church where we have been serving for 8 years. I drive a truck in the transportation industry and I pursue my writing career in my spare time. I have a passion for writing, and I plan to use my voice to glorify God.

In addition to my freelance work, I have a series of Children’s books that will begin to be released starting in June of 2018. I also have written a novel that is currently being edited. I look forward to sharing it sometime in 2019.

The post How to Pick the Right Book for Your Young Reader appeared first on MyStoryBin.com.

How to Teach a Child Who Struggles to Read

The struggle is all too real for some parents. You may have done all you can to introduce your child to the wondrous world of reading, but they aren’t taking to it as you had envisioned. Whether it is just a hyper child who will not sit still, or the other end of the spectrum, where they want to read, but just cannot. In either instance, a parent is racking their brain for ideas to flip the switch within their child that gets them to understand.

I am no expert when it comes to a child who wants to do everything else but sit and read. But I have a couple of friends who have dealt with it. I have inquired of Jenci and Alesha in the construction of this week’s blog. I drew on their insight, and I hope to convey to you what their experiences have taught them.

Me on the other hand, my wife and I have somewhat dealt with the slower learner. Our oldest son struggled in school. Not so much as with a medical condition, but with focus and conveying his needs to those that mattered. This piece will be a bit difficult to write as it will dig up old emotions, but to help some of you who are reading this, I am willing to relive the past, if it will help your future.

“Can your child please sit down for a moment?”

If you have not lived it, there is no way you can describe the reality of raising a hyperactive child. From the outside people see a child who needs discipline. When the truth is, the child may not have complete control over how he or she acts. True, in some cases, discipline can be a factor, but not all. People naturally assume because of the day an age we live in that parental discipline is not used with the child. However, a child who is consistently on the move is wired differently than a child who prefers to sit. Discipline has little to do with it.

When parents are faced with a teaching situation, like reading, most try and calm their child down. They believe that reading time is quiet time. That to read, one must sit down in a chair and focus solely on the task of reading. There are to be no other activities going on; no TV, no music, and most of all no goofing off. This is where many parents fail their children. Reading time becomes forced. This can cause a child to dislike reading. It can also cause the parent to give up trying to have reading time altogether. This can bring about further issues with a child falling behind.

Both Jenci and Alesha have been face to face with this situation: What do you do with a child who struggles with reading? What they have found is that there is nothing “wrong” with their precious children. They are just different. Their struggle was with learning what techniques would be effective with their child’s personality.

Jenci explains that experimentation is part of the process. Her experiences have led to realize that children can be active learners. The sit-down-and-be-quiet reading was ineffective in her situation. Through trial and much error, she discovered that allowing her child to be who he was is better than pushing him to be something he wasn’t. Adapting her style of teaching to his demeanor brought about more significant results than trying to force him to conform to the textbook style of “this is how you should read.”

She also tells me it’s about trying to find what a child’s limitations truly are. She understands that a child can, and will, take advantage of a situation. So yes, you push the child to do what you are trying to accomplish. But after multiple successes and failures, you will then know if your child is egging you on, or if they are seriously unable to do something. Then a parent can know when to push and when not to push, when to persevere, and when to pray.

Alesha found that with her child, he is situational. He can, and will, sit with her and read. But if there are distractions, like another child in the room, he will want to engage with the other child. There are also days when her son loves to read, and then there are days when it’s like pulling hair to get him to read. She also has learned that pushing too hard can be detrimental to the progress.

Both have learned different methods that their kids have responded to. While the approaches may be different, the outcome is the same. They realized that children can still learn while they are playing. However, they agree that if you are taking this route to occasionally pause and strategically ask questions. Test their retention. You will be amazed by how much they remember.

Children are much smarter than any of us give them credit for. In fact, some believe that an active child can show tendencies to be smarter than the average child. Reasons being that as they are active, they can still be in tune with the world around them. They are able to have their minds remain focused on someone reading to them even while moving about or engaged in another activity.

This is something that schools miss. Teachers are trained for sit-still-and-learn. Which is right to some level. I mean, imagine a class of thirty kids all moving around while the instructor tries to teach. OR just one kid moving around while a teacher tries to deal with twenty-nine distracted kids.

“You should have your child tested.”

Now we move to the other end of the spectrum. Maybe the child is not hyper at all. Mine wasn’t. He was just slow at learning. Every teacher he had, every school he went to all said the same thing; we should run some tests. The thing was that every test they gave him he passed. They checked for everything from Dyslexia to Attention Deficit Disorder. Yet, nothing could be found, so he continued to struggle.

My oldest son was able to sit and be read to. He could follow along easily; as long as the story was not too long. It was not that he would get bored, his mind would just wander. We would be in the middle of a story, and he would ask a random question that had nothing to do with the story. He struggled to stay focused. Mom and I were concerned that this lack of focus would hurt his education.

Through many doctor visits, we learned that our son suffered from the same condition I suffer. It has a long name, and a symptom of this condition causes the mind to have a shorter attention span than someone without this condition. To put it simply, his mind is continually active.

Think of it as watching TV and every few minutes the channel changes without you touching the remote. It is like the hyperactive child; only it’s not physical activity, its mental. The learning process to overcome this condition is to learn how to slow down the mind and force yourself to maintain focus. This is a difficult thing to teach a 5-year-old. Heck, it’s still difficult for me to deal with and I am 43 now.

For our son, the solution was to adapt to his learning ability. Shorter stories or breaking the story up into two halves. If we started to see him drift off, we would use a “to be continued.” While this worked for reading time, he was still struggling with school in general. Through tutoring and special education, he was able to make it through High School. This special education involved giving him extra time to complete his classroom work, especially tests. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do the work, but his focus issue suffered even more when under the gun. The help he received gave him the ability to succeed.

Final Thoughts

For those of you whose kids are breezing through school and have no issues, please do not judge those who are. You do not know their story. There are many stories like Jenci’s, Alesha’s and mine. Pointing a finger and making assumptions only exasperates the situation. Instead of a crooked finger, you could be extending a hand of assistance.

I want to thank Jenci and Alesha for taking the times out of their hectic schedules to answer the questions I posed to them. Seeing what they go through from the outside, I can genuinely respect them for the mothers that they are. The last question I asked each of them was for a final piece of advice they would give to those of you reading this who are ready to give up. Here are their answers:

Jenci:

“Patience and perseverance are factors that are a must-have. Never expect from your child something they cannot do. The goal is to discover their learning style. If what you are doing doesn’t work, try something else. It is okay to experiment. Once you figure out what it is, do it. Adapt to the way that works for them and allow your child to do what they need to do that enables them to learn.”

Alesha:

“Make reading a habit and priority. If they can’t get the words, tell them. Don’t fuss or put them down, say it and move on. They will get it in the end. Most of all, don’t give up. If you do, you are teaching your child that when things get hard that giving up is an option. That is not what we want to teach them. Stop, take a breather, and do something else for a moment. After a small break, get back to it. The point is to keep moving forward and teaching them that continuing does pay off.”

The post How to Teach a Child Who Struggles to Read appeared first on IsabellaBookStore.com.

I live in a small town in South Central Texas with my wife Carolyn and our four children. We attend the local First Baptist Church where we have been serving for 8 years. I drive a truck in the transportation industry and I pursue my writing career in my spare time. I have a passion for writing, and I plan to use my voice to glorify God.

In addition to my freelance work, I have a series of Children’s books that will begin to be released starting in June of 2018. I also have written a novel that is currently being edited. I look forward to sharing it sometime in 2019.

The post How to Teach a Child Who Struggles to Read appeared first on MyStoryBin.com.

You are Your Child’s First English Teacher

Most people can remember who their first-grade teacher was. So much so that many websites will have one of their security questions as such. Thus, you won’t be getting mine, not that I have ever used it. That teacher often leaves a memory burn that is now being brought out with the thoughts of your child going to school. The time is coming when they will leave the gentle tutelage of mom and dad and enter the world of public school to meet their Ms. Trubey. (Oops, I said it.)

But before your child begins to learn the three R’s within an organized setting, you are their first contact with learning. From their first words to their first reading books, you are there. You are an English teacher that holds a parental degree. It is your duty to start your child off right. Start young and make it fun. The habits you instill in your child now will form the habits he continues as he moves through his or her education journey.

As your child’s first teacher, always remember that someday someone is going to take over that primary role. Respect their role. Work with them, but don’t forget you still have a job to do.

Depending on the School Alone?

Just because your child begins school, does not mean that your part of your child’s development is over. Your child’s teacher will be the first one to tell you that a parent is just as important to the teaching process as they are. You are partners. They teach, you reinforce. If either party does not do their part, then the process breaks down, and a child falls behind.

Communication and follow-up is important. Keep up with what your child is learning. Not only with homework, but in the classroom too. If you have concerns, contact the teacher. Attend parent teacher conferences, especially if grades are suffering. The point is to be involved. School is not a place you send your child for eight hours of babysitting while you go to work. There is a process here and your participation will determine whether or not it succeeds.

Keep in mind that unless what the teacher is teaching in class and what you are teaching at home lines up, your child will be left confused. They will feel the burden of having to choose between you and the teacher. When they choose you, it complicates the teacher’s job because your child is bucking their way of teaching. Imagine this situation times thirty. Now you can begin to understand how complicated being a teacher is.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Before we get them into school, we have the classroom of the home to address.

What You Can Do as a Parent

We have already said to start young. This is a normal part of parenting. It begins with each parent attempting to get a baby’s first word to be ‘mamma’ or ‘dadda.’ Why stop there though? Introduce your child to all the words that are associated with his or her little world; bottle, bear, hand, foot, dog, cat, etc. Of course, what comes out of their mouth will most likely sound nothing like the word taught, but it’s all about association at this point. With practice, they will learn.

As they get older, association becomes easier. It’s the pronunciation that needs the work. Correct them gently when they say a word not quite right. For instance, its ‘asked’ not ‘axed.’ I hear way too many adults with the confusion of how this word is pronounced. For an adult, a well-pronounced vocabulary can mean the world. To a child, it provides them a head start in life. Speaking imparts a level of maturity that can get them further than a garbled speech would.

When they get to the age where you are reading and following along, use that time to begin to associate words with what the pictures are showing in the story. Show them beginning letters and occasionally point to a letter and ask them what it is. Then you can teach them to identify the smaller sight words at first, then move into some of the longer ones.

Teaching does not have to be a chore; for the parent or the child. Learning should be an exciting experience. Have fun. Find games to play, songs to sing, and tools to utilize that take the cumbersome and make it enjoyable. There are scads of websites and books out there that do just that; they educate the parent on how to teach a child.

Final Thoughts

When done right, by the time your child walks through the door to their first classroom, they will be further ahead than most of the class. Your child will have confidence deep inside that they will carry far beyond the first grade. A confident child will have an easier time of learning. Self-esteem is developed in the home. You are not only your child’s first English teacher; you are their first coach. Cheer them on, go overboard when you need to.

One thing to keep in mind that every child is different. Those of you with more than one can testify to that. One of your children will breeze through learning and excel in their education. Then your second child will seem like they are stuck in the mud. Do not get discouraged, with yourself or your child. Keep encouraging them. Reward even the littlest success. A small seed of recognition can blossom into a bushel of confidence, giving your child the desire to succeed. Not only with learning, but in every avenue of their life.

The Opportunity of a Life with No Regrets

I am 42 years old. This week, my wife and I celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. We have 4 wonderful children; half of which are now out of High School. We have decent jobs and attend a local church where we have been serving the past eight years.

As I look back on my life, I have wondered about the choices made. Most of my life decisions I have made myself, but some of them have been made for me. When I consider these things, I am tempted to think about opportunities I may have been passed up, asking myself where I would be if I had chosen left instead of right?

Even though I contemplate, I know, right now, I am precisely where I am supposed to be. All the choices I have made have led me to this point in time for a time such as this. All the paths I have traveled, and the pitfalls I have dove headfirst into, all have made me into the man I am today. And that person is the person God is continuing to mold me into.

This not only works for me. It also means that everything you have experienced in your life has led you to today and the person you have become; the person God is making you into.

Choices We Make

This all begins with choices. We make choices every day, whether we realize it or not. We choose what time to get out of bed in the morning, what brand of coffee to drink, and what we are going to wear to work. Leaving the house, we chose which route we are going to take to our job, how fast we are going to drive to get there, and how close we are going to park to the entrance.

At work, we chose what projects we are going to prioritize, how much effort we are going to put into that assignment, and then what are we going to eat for lunch. Once we complete our inbox, we chose how to get home, what to eat for dinner, and then what time we are going to hit the hay.

Choices.

These decisions come to us day in and day out. Once we develop a pattern, we can go through life, sometimes on autopilot, not realizing the ramifications of our choices. Yes, the pattern I have laid out is normal life. You may think that what you have for lunch or what project you start off with matters little in the grand scheme of things, but it can.

What we eat can affect our health. The assignment we work on may not be what our bosses want us to prioritize. How we drive to and from work can matter because that 5MPH over the speed limit can put you somewhere where you wouldn’t have been if you had gone the speed limit. Our choices have consequences. Even the small ones.

So, we live with the consequences of life, and we deal with them as they come. Our choices can lead us to feeling stuck; in a rut. This can evolve into doubt and eventually regret, especially with the larger decisions we must make throughout our lives. The decisions we once had control over, and now look back on with questions.

Choices Made for Us

While we can choose Columbian or Guatemalan coffee for breakfast, there are some decisions that are beyond our control. Yeah, we may feel we have control over all areas of our life, but when it comes down to it, we are stuck with some things and have to make due. We are to take what we are given and use in the best manner that suits the situation, and our abilities.

For instance, I have chosen to drive a truck for a living. When I get to the terminal in the morning, I have to pre-trip the truck I am driving. These are federal laws that help protect me, the people on the highway, and the company I work for. I have no choice but to obey those laws. Otherwise, I lose my job. Yes, I can choose not to follow that checklist, but what if there was a brake line leak? I would get down the highway, and when I tried to stop, I wouldn’t be able to. Then I would cause an accident, perhaps injure someone (or worse.) I would lose my job, my license, and most likely have a lawsuit to deal with. All because I went against a choice that was made for me.

Other decisions made for us can be less dramatic. It does, however, begin with a choice we make, but what happens from there is often in someone else’s hands. We can pick a car to drive, but we may be limited to a certain type of fuel or parts to maintain the vehicle. We can choose to go to school for a degree, but the courses we must take to achieve that degree are spelled out in an outline. Or we can choose a path in life and walk that road boldly, only to find it more difficult than we thought.

When the momentum of the choices we have made begin to take on a life of themselves, we feel the loss of control. Then we make attempts to slow life down only to be overcome by the inertia of the very thing we began rolling in the first place.

Opportunities Left Behind

With the complexity of life, we get so lost in going through the motions we forget to live. Then we wake up one day and look back and wonder if we have made the right choices, or worse, we regret the choices we have already made. Regret can cause drastic actions. This can lead to the so-called mid-life crisis; the realizing that there is less life in front of you than there is behind. You carry the weight of thinking you could somehow be more than what you currently are. Don’t be mistaken; this happens to both men as well as women. Both trying to look, act, and live younger. It always leads to dangerous ground.
Regrets of past opportunities we let pass can keep us from accomplishing what we currently have set out to do. Life cannot be lived in the rearview mirror. Looking back takes our eyes off the here and now. If we focus on what has been, we lose sight of what will be. By the time we realize it, new opportunities will have passed us by, causing further regret; it’s an endless cycle.

You may hate your job and don’t see any way out. After all, it’s what you have been doing for ten years.
You may be rethinking your career path, but you have put so much money and energy into this course that you feel there is no turning back.

You may feel your life is stalled with no future ahead. You are sure that you have accomplished all you are going to.

Regret and self-doubt get you nowhere. They only destroy who you are now. However, there is a silver lining to it all. There is some good news.

Regrets are not Failures

There is one important thing to know when you are faced with feeling regret as you survey your past; you have not failed. The truth of the matter is you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Your job, your relationships, and your life are all part of a divine plan. Your responsibility is to find the joy in what has been given to you and to live that life to the fullest. No regrets, even when you are convinced that you messed up.

God has laid out a path for you. He has a plan for each of us, win, lose, or draw. We can take what we are given and utterly screw it up, but still be completely in His will. You see, God is not surprised by anything. He knows our choices before we even make them. Our mistakes are His greatest triumphs because when we fall short, we learn. (Some of us have learned a lot.)

There are two things we can do when we face failure. We can give up, throw in the towel, and sit in misery. Or we can learn from it and move on, stronger than before. Giving up should never be an option. It is an immature way to handle the situation. When we accept that life is going to have bumps, it will become easier. The more we live, the more we learn to anticipate and prepare for the strikeouts of life.

Final Thoughts

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” God gives us the courage to move on. Right from where we are at. When we learn to be content with where we currently are, then the clarity of our call will be realized. When we learn what the call on our life is, it will become our heart’s desire. When we learn to depend on his guidance toward our calling, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

There is no need for regret. You may not feel accomplished in your life, but that is a matter of perspective. There will always be someone behind you that sees you more successful than they are. The only one who can give you the proper perspective is God. Once you can see yourself through His eyes and come to an understanding that God don’t make junk, then you can begin to see the events of your life in a different light.