Kids need a solid foundation. They need someone there when they are young to take care of them when they are sick, to teach them right from wrong, and to generally provide stability in their lives. Researchers have determined that the solid foundation is especially crucial in the early years, from birth through age three.
Although nobody’s perfect and your child will undoubtedly be first in line to let you know this once she is a teenager, here are some suggestions to lay a good foundation for your children.
Stability and Routine
Stability and routine are important to children. Most parents can’t be with their children 24/7, but maybe there’s a particular time of day when you can be with your child consistently. For example, some parents work late but manage to be home for story time every night. Other parents can always be available in the morning to make a healthy breakfast, set out the backpacks and see the kids off to school.
If you have odd hours but can be around in the middle of the day, that can work, too – for example, many elementary schools allow parents to sit in the cafeteria with their children for a special lunch together. Anything will work as long as you’re providing some stability and familiar routine.
One way to provide some familiar routine is to read to your child every night. Reading to your child is a huge contribution to your child’s solid foundation. Experts say even from the womb your baby will get used to the sound of your voice and will find it very comforting.
Reading to babies teaches them about communication, builds listening and memory skills and exposes them to numbers, letters and new words in a fun way that can become a part of your daily routine. Researchers say that reading to your child as a baby will give them a stronger vocabulary by age two and make them a better reader later.
The National Institute for Child Health and Human Development has done research that has led them to say, “Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life. A child that is an excellent reader is a confident child, has a high level of self-esteem and is able to easily make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.” What better way to lay a solid foundation than to read a few minutes every night.
Beyond the Basics
Beyond the basics of ensuring that you provide your children with healthy food, exercise, love them and keep them safe, you could drive yourself crazy considering all the things you have to teach them — right from wrong, how to be a good friend, how to do algebra, stress management, responsibility, your values. You could read all the childcare books ever written and they’d all say something different.
In the end, it all comes down to the quality time they spend with you. Kids learn by example and you’re their example. Maybe they’ll learn how to play checkers, how to root for their favorite baseball team, how to be a good sport. Maybe they’ll learn the importance of a family vacation at the lake.
All of these seemingly little things add up to make your child the wonderful child that they are going to become. You’re a good guide. Just go forward and be yourself and do your best to set a solid foundation for your kids.