Just a few minutes each day is sufficient to support early learning for a child. As parents, we spend at least 30 minutes every day with our children. At some point during the day, there is usually time for a one on one with your child, even if you have more than one child at home.
From the time my oldest was born, we were already having powerful interactions. It was not deliberately focused on teaching skills, but that is what resulted. By the time she was three years old, she was reading. How did that happen? It wasn’t too difficult and had nothing to do with a college degree. It was strategically focused on her and using what we take for granted as teaching opportunities.
Powerful interactions between parent and child can occur at any time of the day. Just moving along your normal daily routine, you can optimize your child’s growth and development. While giving your child a bath at night, that is perfect for powerful interactions. Parents can support and promote reading, vocabulary, math skills and science principles while in the bathtub.
The core principle of powerful interactions is that each one of us can maximize time spent together by building upon what you already have and do. It can build upon using what your child already knows to develop new skills. Every minute of every day is potentially a teachable moment. Every activity that your child participates in can be optimized by learning new skills.
Key awareness for parents is that they must be present, ever thinking and enhancing their environment in ways that support learning goals. As you travel to and from work by bus or car, those moments can be teachable moments. Look around you. There is a wealth of knowledge to be had all around us, especially for youngsters at any age. For younger children, letter, object, color recognition and identification is possible without altering that environment one bit. We simply alter our focus.
A hum drum quiet car ride can be transformed by engaging your child in meaningful targeted conversation with your child. The scenery provides and stimulates learning reading skills. There are signs, colors, objects and people to teach about in some way. Don’t sit quietly in the car. Rather along the ride, point out letters, colors, connect objects with sounds,and count the cars you see. Point out trucks, trains, etc….While at home, label windows, doors, toys, sink, stove, chair, etc….
When reading to your child, always, always, always read in your most animated and excited voice. Make learning and reading fun. Make everyday activities and chores fun. While cooking dinner, encourage your child’s help in the preparation[tossing a salad, mixing and stirring, adding ingredients to a bowl, etc…]. Read, count, identify, engage, ask questions, create stories and tell stories-together. When children see your excitement with reading and over every one of their accomplishments, that fuels their desire to accomplish more, to read or learn to read more enthusiastically.
The point of powerful interactions between parents and their children is to enhance the growth and development of new skills, by building on existing skills, current interests and activities. Based on a child’s interests, parents can connect different learning areas. In 10 or 20 minutes, without having to invest lots of money, progress can be made, learning can be extended and interesting and fun. Just follow your child’s lead.
Families don’t need to make lesson plans or create complex activities to help children learn. Conversations, singing cute songs, dancing together, and other familiar activities are great ways for families to engage with children. And,… It’s okay if a child does not engage with or respond during an activity. Parents and/or family members can always try again later or do something differently to see if the child then finds the activity engaging and interesting.
Parents don’t need to “test” their children at the end of an activity to make sure they have learned something. Instead, learning is extended based on children’s specific interests and abilities.