In simple ways at home, parents can improve their child’s cognitive ability and ready them for learning
Student achievement has been found to be most influenced by parents’ aspirations and expectations for their children’s development along with active involvement in their learning.
Parents must be supporters, not teachers, but there are simple things a parent can do to ensure a child is well-adjusted and ready to learn in a school environment.
These expectations and aspirations, however, should not turn into dominating parenting that checks up on homework and hours on the computer. High expectations best appear in taking an interest in the child’s activities, discussing them, and supporting the child in developing further.
Activities in the home can enhance a child’s cognitive development
- Homework. Research tells us students do better if they are expected to complete homework and do well, but only when they are not watched, timetabled or controlled by their parents.
- Read to your child. Listen to them read, tell stories, change the ending, add a character, experiment with ideas.
- Set appropriate limits for behaviour and appropriate times for activities that fit the child’s age. Limits give a sense of security, if children know what they are supposed to do they can be happy they will not make a mistake. As you have decided on these limits with care and consideration of the child’s best interests, explain them to your child and apply them consistently.
- When learning new things, start from the very beginning. There is no point trying to learn new material without the correct foundations. If issues arise with literacy or numeracy, it could mean some of the basics were missed at school.
- Build a positive mindset. Learning needs to be a positive experience even if there are challenges along the way. Seeing learning as fun and enjoyable sets a pleasant expectation. Children need to know they can ‘have a go’, and if they make a mistake it is all part of the positive learning experience.
- Talk. Use your time together to talk and explain (not lecture). Use every activity as an opportunity to talk with them, this will help to build their knowledge.
- Play. Children love playing games with their parents, use play to teach concepts such as the meanings of words, maths, problem solving, and doing experiments.
There are three essentials for child development
- Security. Children first and foremost need to feel that they are loved and that they belong.
- Self-worth. Children need to feel comfortable with and accepting of the person they are.
- Competence. Adults are essential mirrors for children’s self-evaluation. Parents who acknowledge and enhance their child’s sense of competence in very simple and effective ways ensure their child can take risks, and deal with setbacks and mistakes. Parents can affirm their child by listening respectfully to their views and ideas, echoing these ideas so the child feels truly understood, asking open questions (What will you do about that? How do you think that will help?), and affirming a child’s ideas with positive statements like “that sounds like an impressive set of ideas”.
Nurturing a child’s development, along with their cognitive development in the early formative years will get them ready for learning in a social sense, and ensure the type of content they will be presented with at school seems familiar to them. This is imperative for good results not only in their academic ability, but also in their development as happy and healthy kids.
Vicki McKenzie, Educational Psychologist, Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.