As a mum, one of your most important responsibilities, and one of the hardest to accept, is to prepare your child to get along without you. There will come a day when they move out of the house to go to university, or get their first job, and rent their first flat. Though you’ll always be there to offer advice, and help them if they need it, it’s very important that your child grow into a free-thinking, independent individual, who can not only survive on their own in the world, but thrive.
One of the most important elements your child will need to succeed is a keen mind that can adapt to many situations. Critical thinking, problem-solving and decision-making are all indispensable skills that everybody needs to get through life. Often, we as parents rely on our child’s schooling to teach them everything they need to know, from an academic standpoint at least.
But if you really want your little one to thrive, and develop the skills they won’t find in a textbook, you need to take your own steps to help your child advance. Following are five ways that you can help your child develop even faster, and ensure they’ve got the best chance to succeed later in life.
1. Foster an Appreciation of Reading
Notice, I didn’t say love. The fact is that there are many people out there, of all ages, who hate reading. There’s nothing wrong with that; we all have our own preferred methods to entertain ourselves and get information, but reading has to be a part of that. Multiple studies have shown that children who read develop faster, get better grades, and retain information better, than children who don’t.
Children who read also gain a host of other benefits, including the ability to analyze, interpret and conceptualize. All three will be indispensable skills when they reach adulthood: they’ll need to be analyze the world around them to understand what, exactly, they’re dealing with; interpret what implications those pieces of data and circumstances hold for both themselves and those they’re closest to; and conceptualize ways that they can either overcome setbacks or turn them to their advantage.
Start early by reading to your child, even before they start to speak; it will help them to become familiar with your voice so they identify you as “mummy” earlier, help them develop their own speech faster, and can help them develop their brain capacity early on. You may not believe it because they’ll be drooling all over you while you try to read, but I promise it’s true!
2. Introduce Them to Blogging
Mental health professionals the world over recommend keeping a journal as a way to help process emotions, record important events and realizations, and relieve stress. Today, more people turn to the digital realm to record their lives than pen and paper, and this can hold several unique advantages for your child.
Almost every business in the world does the majority of its business on a computer nowadays, and odds are, your child will have a job that will require them to have at least a basic understanding of computers. Through blogging, you child can not only get the same benefits they can through traditional writing, they’ll learn to use computers and the internet long before school or work requires that they do so.
They’ll improve their typing speed, learn how to conduct research online, and, yes, deal with bullies and trolls online. Sad as that last point is, the reality is that, sooner or later, your child will encounter these types of people, and need to know how to deal with them, or learn to ignore them.
Your child will also start to develop some basic communication and social skills through their connections with others. Of course, you will need to monitor their online use and make sure that what they’re being exposed to is appropriate.
All you need to get your child started blogging is a registered domain of their own and a basic website template.
3. Introduce Problem Solving Through Play
One of the most critical, and least developed, life skills anyone can have is problem-solving. No matter how smart you are, or how hard you work, or how much money you have, sooner or later, something will go wrong, and you’ll have to figure out how to fix it. You can help your child develop basic problem solving skills early on, in ways that make it fun and enjoyable for them!
Board games are a great tool to help foster problem solving for children, in a way that won’t feel like they’re being forced to learn something. Managing their money in Monopoly, narrowing their search area in Battleship, or pondering their next move in Chess will all help your child overcome the challenges in front of them. Board games will also help teach them to show respect their opponent, not be deterred by defeat, and enjoy, but remain humble in, their successes.
I know you want to limit your child’s TV time, and as a mum, you’re absolutely right to do so! But there will be times when your child wants to do something by themselves, and with a certain degree of privacy. This is perfectly natural in all children, and you as a parent need to respect that, but it doesn’t mean they can’t keep learning; video games can be a great outlet to give your child some privacy, while also allowing them to engage their minds in a positive manner.
There are video games that have little to no violence at all, and instead use gameplay focused on puzzles and story to keep players engaged. Examples include games like Portal, The Secret of Monkey Island, and King’s Quest.
You can, and should, limit the amount of time your child spends in front of a screen, but give them a little me time now and then. You can take advantage of that time off too mum!
Growing With Them
I hope that they ideas we discussed here are helpful to you, and of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There are plenty more options for you to consider when helping your child develop. Whatever you choose, the important thing is that you take an active role in helping your child become the best they can be!
This is a contributed post.