I have outlined below ways to help your child with imagination/creativity, emotional intelligence, literacy, math, joy of learning, writing development and service.  As you interact with your child, remember children are not mini-adults. They are qualitatively different in their ways of learning and thinking from adults. Children :adults  =  tadpoles: frogs.  To teach them, we have to think about the way they learn- not how we think they should learn. Remember children learn in context and learn best when they initiate the topic. As things naturally come up, teach them. If they want to stop and look at an ant, let them. Let go of your goal to keep walking to the park. Stop and answer questions about where that ant might be going. To the grass? What does he eat? Or just stop and let your child be mesmerized by the ant in silence. If you are at the zoo and your agenda is to see the elephants, hippos, giraffes, etc, and your child wants to stare at the flamingos for a half hour, let them. Also, remember there is a difference between stimulation and over-stimulation. The Chuck E. Cheese stimulation means sounds, colors and movement constantly coming at them. It is hard to process all that sensory input at one time and can lead to coping strategies that might not suit regular school and living. Imagination/CreativityIn the book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman states that our children will get jobs not based on the information they know but based on their ability to think outside of the box. Increasing numbers of people throughout the world will have access to the exact same information as them through the internet. Even many high level jobs are becoming so standardized that the number of people who can perform them is sky rocketing. For example, hospitals now send MRIs to radiologists in India in the evening. The next morning, the radiologist summary report is waiting in the email in box. Doing well at a job will be about adding unusual value –  not just pushing out standard work. When one product cycle ends, our kids will have to think how to create or be involved in a new business.         

How can we teach our child now to help them creatively deal with the constantly changing job landscape or changing economy? The answer is so easy it seems ridiculous. Is it a $300 summer camp on creativity? NO.  It is letting your child PLAY. Watch your child play sometime. Really, really observe. You will be amazed at their creativity. We can stifle this through TV watching, structured activities where the adult decides all the activities, or we can let them play. Children lose their ability to play as they get older. Take advantage of this window while they want to play so badly. Emotionally, this helps them because they experience joy in play and joy in creating their own dramas. They are empowered by playing the doctor.  Watch their faces and listen to them laugh. Are they doing this as much in structured activities? Or while watching TV?  This will also help with creative and analytical writing later in school. (During the early years, the literacy teachers are often too busy to teach anything beyond basic decoding skills.) Later, all the sudden, teachers start focusing on creative output.Emotional Intelligence/Discipline I think we all know that a personÕs ability to work with people, manage them, be on a team with them has a huge impact on his or her career. School tests a person a lot on knowledge. 99% of jobs will not require them to learn the same volume of information they have to learn in 10th grade, for example. Instead, it is the ability to problem solve through a situation or work with others that matters more in a job.         

How can you help with this? Read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and BUY and DO Raising a Thinking Child Workbook by Myrna Shure.         

Also, get on eye level with your child, stop everything else and really listen to your child 5 times a day for 5 minutes.          

Remember there is a difference between punishment and applying consequences. Remember when your Dad screamed at you for breaking something and you had to go to your room. Were you thinking Gee, Dad is right.  I need to be more careful. Or I hate when he talks to me like that. What can I do to get even? Go for consequences.

They should be: RELATED, REASONABLE, Teach Responsibility, Respectful Consequences should not be applied with I told you sos but with empathy. Remember parenting is not easy. For more on the above, read, read, read. There is too much to summarize here. If you want a perfect child, adopt an adult. Dr. Michael Bradley  Literacy READ TO YOUR CHILD.

This will help them with vocabulary, sentence structure/grammar, morphological pieces (word pieces such as ed for past tense), concept formation, imagination, phonological awareness (familiar patterns in words), and what a story includes- conflict, characters, resolution, etc. Make learning fun. If they donÕt like a book after trying it out, donÕt make them read it. There has been an explosion in books for children. There is something for everyone. Keep looking for ones he or she will like. Model reading at your house. DonÕt tell them to read while you watch TV. If you want to work with your child on improving their reading skills, work with them for short periods of time and offset that with large amounts of fun, read aloud reading. Read to your child through middle school. It doesnÕt matter if your child can read to themselves. Check out reading lists at your library. For car trips, check out books on tape.Let your child participate in the reading. Let them make their own (seemingly random) connections to the story. Have them act out the story. Pause before the rhyming word and ask them to say it. Ask them if they remember what comes next. MathRemember that in math as in every other area, that the basics come first. Arithmetic before algebra. Algebra before calculus. For your pre-schooler, the concepts can seem so basic that we think they should skip over them. Anything pre-arithmetic seems to obvious. DonÕt skip this.

Ideas for math this summer:         

Cook with your child.

Have them help set the temperature on the oven.         

Have them look for the departure gate number or count till you get to your airplane seat.         

Take a vote in your family. How many people want to eat dinner outside? How many inside?         

Have them set the table. How many people in the family? Setting the table helps with one to one correspondence.         

Have them separate the colors from the whites. Which pile has more?          

Have them pour the laundry detergent in.         

Fold the laundry into squares, triangles.         

Measure out pet food for the pet.         

Water the plant.         

Have them pick out 3 apples.         

Weigh the apples.         

Watch the gas gauge turn when putting gas in.         

Look at numbers on license plates.         

Have them pay for things and get the change.

Do things in context. You dont have to spend your whole day doing this. Just do things as they naturally come up. Joy of Learning As a parent, model loving to learn. They have to be in school for 15- 18 years anyways, they might as well like it. I also think there is nothing like the joy of life long learning. At the dinner table, discuss interesting events or ideas. Your child will catch on to your feelings about learning. Hand DevelopmentIf you would like to continue to strengthen your childÕs hand/wrist/ arm for handwriting purposes, you can do the following:Have your child clean tables or surfaces by scrubbing with a sponge. They love this. I put a bucket next to them so they can wring out the sponge.Provide cups, spoons and water toys in the bathtub. Let your child work on an easel or vertical space for shoulder development.Let your child play with shaving cream on the bathtub wall, finger paints, and playdough.They can string macaroni. They have to hold the macaroni with a pincer grip.Provide very short crayons or similar writing utensils.Finger puppets are good too.For letter formation, you can have them trace big letters in sand or shaving cream. Remember top to bottom and left to right in letter formation. ServiceChildren can feel empowered by helping.Have them:         

Turn off the lights. Draw a picture for an elderly neighbor.          

Offer to walk a neighborÕs dog for a week.         

Pick up their rooms.         

Make Dad a special FatherÕs Day present.Maybe I just want to think this way, but I think people are more grounded and happier when they think about helping others. They can find win/wins in a situation or sometimes even a lose/win. Have them think about what is good for the larger community not just themselves. Notice their confidence level after they help. What is the Value to You in the Approach Above?Speaking of win/wins, what is the value to you in the parenting ideas above?

1) None of the above costs ANY MONEY!

2) You can save time Instead of dividing your day into

1) my errands and then

2) quality time with my child, incorporate the two. (Be sure your child is an active participant in the errands.)                                                                         

i.      Going to the gas station IS a learning experience. The child can see the cost of gas. She can put the debit card into the machine.                                                                       

ii.      At the grocery store, have them help pick out the items. (Give limited choices- this cereal or that. NOT what cereal should we get?)                                                                    

iii.      (Doing errands doesnÕt sound fun to us, but remember this is the same crowd that has been excited about the calendar at circle time for 9 months. Montessori would say children between 0 to 6 have a drive to assimilate their culture. They want to know about and do everything their parents do.) While you get some stuff done around the house like bill paying, your child can be learning to entertain themselves or be playing creatively. 

FINALLY, write down 5 things you have done well as a parent every day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!