If you are like most parents, you want the best for your child. You want them to grow into fully functioning, happy, fulfilled and successful adults. So how can you ensure that you’re doing those things today that can help to bring about the desired results? How can you even know what is is that needs to be done to cultivate success?
Children are sponges. Watch any child in the way that they play, alone or with others, and you’re likely to recognize a few of your own habits and mannerisms. They are they master observers, and they reflect back exactly what they see.
So in a blinding flash of the obvious, if you want your children to be happy, fulfilled, successful and fully functioning, then that is the type of behavior you need to model. That is the type of person you need to be.
Each year, children spend 900 hours in the classroom, and 7,800 hours outside of the classroom. Especially during the early years, much of that time is spent with parents. Which teacher is likely to have the greatest influence? The one in the classroom or the one at home?
Then the question remains? How can I be the most positive role model possible? How can I ensure that I am a success (Earl Nightengale defines Success as the progressive realization of a worthy ideal), and demonstrate successful living for my children?
There are three simple steps to ensuring the success and happiness of your children (and yourself):
First, become a voracious reader. One common denominator among successful people is that they read more than average people do. People who are committed to reading and self-development become the best at what they do, including parenting.
Brian Tracy, best selling author and motivational speaker, says,
” Becoming an excellent reader is mandatory. It is no longer something you can choose to do or not do. It is absolutely essential and indispensable for your success.
A great many people do not read very much. Fifty-eight percent of adult Americans never read a nonfiction book from cover to cover after they finish school. The average American reads less than one book per year. In fact, according to a Gallup study of the most successful men and women in America, reading one nonfiction book per month will put you into the top 1 percent of living Americans.
People don’t read because they’ve not been ingrained with the absolute importance of it. Lifelong learning and reading are the bare minimum for success in today’s world.
Many people also have the false idea that learning is something that took place in school, and stops after high school and college, unless you enroll in more courses.
Learning should be a daily habit, and not something that is only a part of ‘school.’ It is your responsibility to take charge of your own education.
Second, build a personal library. Research shows that having access to printed materials (books, magazines and newspapers) increase the opportunities for and likelihood of reading more often. The more you read, the better you’ll become at it, the more you’ll enjoy it and the more you will do it.
Jim Trelease, in his book The Read-Aloud Handbook says,
Contrary to the doctrine that blames teachers for reading scores, research shows the seeds of reading and school success are sown in the home, long before the child ever arrives at school.
Research was conducted in which:
The numbers reinforce the adage that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Therefore you change the tree if you want different apples.
In essence, children who were successful at reading and had a high interest in doing it, 75-98% of them came from homes that owned a high number of books, were taken to the library often, and were read to on a daily basis.
This brings us to the third step for success; read aloud with your children everyday.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. tells the story of his mother. As he describes her, “She was not a learned woman, never finished high school. But then, it’s hard to be learned when you grow up black in Depression-era Mississippi. Still, not being learned is not the same as not being smart.”
“My first reader was a welfare mother with a heart condition. She lived in a housing project near downtown Los Angeles.
“This is circa 1962 or ’63 and technically, she wasn’t my reader back then but my listener. I would follow her around as she ironed clothes or prepared a meal, reading aloud from my latest epic, which, like all my epics, was about a boy who was secretly a superhero, with super strength and the ability to fly.
“Surely there came a point when the poor woman secretly regretted having taught the bespectacled child his ABCs, but she never let on. Just nodded and exclaimed in all the right places and when the story was done, sent me off to clean up my room or wash my hands for dinner.”
“Mrs. Pitts couldn’t afford to spend her son’s 7,800 hours by driving him around to tutoring classes. Instead, she tutored him herself by listening, enthusing, and reading. She couldn’t afford high-priced “eye-contact” tutors but she skimped to buy him a toy typewriter when he was eight, and a used one when he was 14. Loose change? Just enough so her son could buy the latest “Spider-Man” and “Fantastic Four” comic books.
What Mrs. Pitts was doing is one of the great trade secrets in American education.”
Our concern as parents should is not so much with teaching children how to read; it’s about teaching children to want to read. There is a big difference. “What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we make them learn.” Our purpose is to create lifetime readers- children who continue to read and educate themselves into their adult lives
The three most important factors in fostering lifetime learning and a love of reading is by 1) Modeling reading and learning in the home, 2) Providing sufficient access to printed materials through a home library and, 3) Reading with your child(ren) everyday.
These three steps have been proven to develop postive, pleasurable associations with reading and books, increasing the likelihood that self-directed learning will continue into adulthood.
These results cannot be produced in the classroom.
A lobster, when left high and dry among the rocks, has not instinct nor energy enough to work his way back to the sea, but waits for the sea to come to him. If it does not come, he remains where he is and dies, although the slightest effort would enable him to reach the waves, which are perhaps a few hundred yards from him.
The world is full of human lobsters: Stranded on the rocks of indecision and procrastination, who, instead of putting forth their own energies, are waiting for some grand billow of good fortune to set them afloat.
-Orison Swett Marden
Parenting is arguably the most difficult job in the world. It taxes your mental, emotional and physical energies beyond previous boundaries. Yet, in spite of all the hardships, we adore our children and want the best for them.
We want the best, but sometimes wanting and giving are two different things. We want our children to do well in school. We want to be involved in their education. We want them to develop a love of learning and develop into successful, influential, educated human beings.
We want all those things, but too often we feel like the lobster, high and dry on the emotional rocks of ‘life’, weary and beaten, lacking the drive and the energy to drag ourselves to the sea of idealism. So we remain where we are, waiting and hoping that the sea of opportunity will come to us, and carry our children high upon the grand billows of good fortune and set them afloat to success.
It’s time to stop being a lobster. I don’t need to tell you that if you don’t take responsibility for your children’s education, no one else will. You send your children to school to get educated, but that doesn’t exonerate you from the outcome. The only way to ensure your child’s success is by taking an active role in their learning.
So how can you do it? It’s simple.
- Begin by getting off the rocks of indecision and procrastination and put forth your own energies. Do something, TODAY. And then make a habit of doing something everyday. Buy a book, read with a child, start reading your own book and set the example.
- Model lifelong learning. Let your children see you learning something everyday, even if you’re not enrolled in ‘school’ or a course. You’re responsible for your education, in or out of school, so let your children see that.
- Provide easy access to reading materials. If you don’t have a home library, start building one- for you and your children. You’re less likely to read if you don’t have anything to read.
- Encourage reading everyday. Provide special times, make it a reward and sometimes have treats for reading time. We make movie nights fun with blankets, popcorn and goodies, we should do similar things for reading time.
- Read with your children everyday. Let them read to you, or you read to them. It only needs to be a few minutes if that’s all you have, but it lets your children know that reading is important, and something that is done everyday.
It’s difficult in today’s culture to remember the importance of reading. Reading is like exercise for the brain. It accomplishes growth that cannot be had in any other way. It expands realities, inspires change and develops maturity and wisdom. Reading is critical to success in life, relationships, health, finances and every other area of existence.
Be the change you would see in the world! Stop being a lobster and waiting or success to come to you. Start today to guide yourself and your children on the upward path toward a love of reading and lifelong learning.
Many people consider their early experiences of bedtime storytelling to be the most cherished and valuable memories of their lives. The peacefulness, the reassurance of a parent’s voice, the escape into new and exciting worlds of adventure, the drama of a story unfolding in real time, combine to form indelible memories and mold children into book-lovers.
There is no more important activity for preparing your child to succeed as a reader than reading aloud together. It is an almost organic process, stimulating their imaginations and expanding their understanding of the world. Children learn to love the sound of language even before they notice the existence of printed words on a page.
There is a learning chain that occurs: you read to your children, they develop a love of stories, they want totread on their own, they practice reading, and finally they red for their own information and pleasure.
Reading aloud to children helps stimulate an interest in reading and language as it helps develop listening skills and prepares children to understand the written word.
And it is not an activity limited to children who cannot yet read. You can make this all-important time together enjoyable for children of all ages. The togetherness and affection that develop during read-aloud sessions should not cease because a child knows ho to read on his or her own.