By Dr. Vani Vijayaraj, Endodontist and Cosmetic Surgeon
I like to play a very important role in the education of my four year old child. There is an old Chinese saying.
” Give a seed to a potter and you shall have a bonsai”
If we depend only on the school curriculum to enrich our child’s knowledge, then we are not entirely nurturing the child’s mind, body and spirit.
In the early years, children spend most of their time outside of school. Parents should provide meaningful learning activities at home for their children, prepare, support and enhance what is taught at school.
When I was teaching my then three year old about the different professionals, we took her to a fire station, met with a policeman, a dentist, a doctor, cab driver, gardner, maid, engineer etc. She can now relate to all of them and this provides a stimulating experience.
Here are the six ways you as a parent can get involved.
1. Maintain a daily and weekly family routine
For example, every Sunday evening we have a family routine. We as a family sit in our garden on our respective comfortable chairs along with our own books and have our coffees, fruits and milk spending quality time and as we read our books we even discuss the books. Have a clutter free desk for your child to study everyday. Set a fixed time each day for study and homework and do not negotiate. Read to your child every night, reading aloud is the most important activity that parents can do to increase their child’s chance of reading successfully.
2. Regularly communicate with the school
Informal discussions with school staff is the most useful way to find out about children’s progress in school. It can help us focus on things that the child needs help with.
3. Monitor after school activities
Make sure your child is always supervised, arrange for after school activities like group work on science projects (a group of parents can take turns to help the children), music, dance, sports , literary activities etc. These will help in the development of the child’s social skills.
4. Plan Field trips
Plan field trips with either with a group of your child’s friends or just the family. Field trips give your children the opportunity to touch, hold, see, taste and live what they are learning from books. Plan a trip to the farm, a wild life sanctuary, planetarium etc.
5. Involve yourself in your child’s project work
When you help your child with their project, give a lot of input, help them browse the internet for the best information, take them to the libraries and help them present the project in a excellent manner, which gets appreciated at school and makes the child want to do more.
6. Talk to your children about what they are learning at school
It is important to ask your child about school, be it a Kindergartner or a high schooler . Always ask open-ended questions about their class work —questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or ‘no.” Make sure you share any knowledge you have and if required read the textbooks or browse the net for more information.
I want to share my experience on how I got involved with my child’s project work. The month’s topic in my daughter’s school was seasons. I taught my daughter her seasons, by not just showing her pictures, but by making a diorama with her helping out. We used scrub pads to make the leaves.
- Spring: Blooms everywhere with the big yellow sun and butterflies
- Summer: Blooms turning into fruits, with thirsty birds on a bird bath.
- Autumn: Yellow and orange leaves falling, rain and also a rake.
- Winter: Snow and snow man. No leaves on the branches and the sun farthest away.
I created a chart to show all four seasons in one. She learnt quickly and the teachers told me she did a wonderful job explaining the seasons in class during Show and Tell.
Do you have any tips on how to participate in the education of a 3-5 year old? Please share.
About the Author:
Dr. Vani Vijayaraj is the Founder and Director of Impressions Dental Clinic, Whitefield, Bangalore. She is an Endodontist and Cosmetic Surgeon by profession.
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