I want to raise a smart child. Honestly, what mama doesn’t? But is there something in particular that I should or could be doing to ensure that my little Bryce is brilliant? Should I be sitting down for multiple hours every day, making him practice his letters or numbers? Should I practice with flash cards daily or maybe purchase lots of expensive “educational” toys?
I will admit that I am no expert, but I did get a degree in early childhood and have met a variety of children and have spent time reflecting on what it is that makes the difference.
In my opinion, the most beneficial thing you can do for your child (or any teacher can do for their student), is to talk with them. And even though I completely believe that every child’s potential is different, I think every child has a chance to reach their maximum potential. Answer their millions of questions. Talk about the things they are experiencing. Just talk.
You might wonder what you’re going to talk about. I have a few ideas.
Take your child to experience real things. Take them to the zoo, a baseball game, the aquarium, the park, the grocery store, the post office. Talk with them about everything they are experiencing.
Read to your child. Every day. Research shows that reading aloud is the single most important thing you can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning.
Let your child help you. Sure, it might take longer now, but think of all the learning going on! Talk with them about what you are doing, then let them try and talk with them about what they are doing.
Use the materials and toys you have at your house to help facilitate learning. If your child loves to build with blocks, talk about the colors and shapes of the blocks, their sizes, the sounds they make when they fall over.
You can purposefully set up opportunities that will allow you to have conversations with your child, but sometimes things just happen naturally. It’s okay to follow their lead. Talk about that ant that is crawling around that they can’t take their eyes off of. Talk about your safety concerns when they’re running across the couch. Children are sponges; give them something to soak up!