The ability to read, write, communicate your ideas, and to synthesize what you read into what you do is integral to how successful you will be. There is a direct correlation between your ability to read instructions and perform the tasks they specify… and your job performance.
Writing skills are also a blessing in the adult world. They will facilitate everything from that important college admissions essay, to simply telling someone effectively and memorably that you love them.
This correlation also exists between your ability to communicate and report your progress or success to your superiors and your advancement in whatever work you have chosen. These are critical skills and if you lack them, you are forever limited unless you happen to be one of the lucky few entrepreneurs who succeed despite these challenges.
Good luck with that.
What can you do as a parent to help your child love the written word?
I don’t pretend to be an expert in this area, but as the child of a fairly uneducated single mother who educated herself in my lifetime, I can attest to the power of reading. Read for pleasure. Read with your child. Encourage your child to read for pleasure. Even encourage your kids to read to the dog or cat if they find that appealing! Visit the library with your children on a regular basis and make storytimes a part of their young lives if you possibly can. Make reading something fun that you all do together before bed, even if it means they stretch bedtime out fifteen minutes.
Then start writing. Yes, you! Write for your children and with them. Write them love notes and help them read them. Help them to write notes to their other parent, Grandma, and Grandpa, their teacher and anyone else you can think of and be creative about it. The recipients will love them and the reinforcement your child gets for their efforts is priceless.
Thank you notes should be a no-brainer at your house and they can’t just be, “Thanks for the toy.” Even if they are at the age where you are “helping” actually write them, engage them in the process of coming up with at least one sincere sentence about a gift that will be part of the note. This is basic training for when they start writing their own, and their thank you notes become the ones that everyone in the family will love to receive. Thank you notes are just expected for long distance gifts. It is manners; plain and simple, and no, an email will not suffice for our family.
One of my favorite stories of my younger daughter’s pre-school days was in Mother’s Day Out when the first Father’s Day was fast approaching. They all made cute little cards saying how much they loved their daddies and then the time came for addressing the envelopes. The teacher asked her what her father’s name was. Daughter 2 chirped, “Daddy!”
“No, sweetheart,” said the teacher patiently, what is his real first name…besides Daddy?”
She was a pro, so she tried a different tack. “What does your Mommy call your Daddy?” the teacher asked very carefully.
Daughter 2 thought for a moment, wrinkled her little forehead and said confidently, “Handsome!” My husband never lived it down and the teachers called him Mr. Handsome for the rest of the school year.
As your children learn to read, consider writing them notes when you are upset with them or when you are pleased with them.
When you are angry, it may save you many hurtful arguments to see those words in writing, read them, and then picture your child hearing them. You may find yourself rephrasing or you may even decide to approach them in a completely different way. On the other hand, words of appreciation or praise in writing are things to be treasured long after the actual event is past. That positive note may even get them through a hard time somewhere in the future. This is a win-win strategy in so many ways, and you will set the example for them to express themselves to you in writing in notes that you will keep for a lifetime.
As they progress through school and make a good grade on a paper, ask to read it and give your own praise. Find something sincerely admirable about their work and point it out.
Remember that the more they read, the better their writing will be.
The more they read, the better they will do in every single subject in school, including math. Think I am kidding? Try to solve a story problem if you don’t truly understand the mathematical meaning of the words.
There is no greater gift you can give a child than a book they can love.
Do you care whether it is science fiction, biography, sports, historical fiction, spy stories or tales of the supernatural? Not really. One thing leads to another and the more they read, the more they will read. That is how it works.