Reading, comprehension and interpretation is crucial for a child's journey in life. Take the time to make it fun to read and see what magic lies within.
After a recent experience at my daughters school, I sat to recollect how my childhood was. I come from an African household and the importance of education is engraved in our minds so early, all we do is fantasize about our future careers. This I realised helped me focus and stay on track in school. My siblings and I also had tutors come to our home 4 days a week to push us ahead of the class so getting A's became natural. It was even a competition between us while growing up..
Now as a mum, I have to ask myself, is my daughter getting that same attention? I am in a different environment and the desire to chase a solid education is somewhat lacking. Do I follow the crowd or do I make sure my daughter gets the same opportunities afforded to me by my mother and grandmother? My answer was easy in theory, but practice was a whole different story.
I began by creating what we now call book day where we would visit the library once a week after school. This begun as my daughter started 1st grade earlier this year. She loved it so much that if we missed going on our dedicated day, she made it her mission to nag at me until we went. Now it is fixed permanently in my calendar. And why not? Our local library gave us a 2 books free pass every 2 weeks. My daughter is enrolled in the Spanish dual Immersion program and this card made it so easy to lease a variety of spanish books without having to buy any.
Then my daughter begun to ask for books of her own. I decided it was time to extend our book day to window shopping at the local book store. Well the photos accompanying this blog post tell it all. Her first choice of books were those of the television shows she watched...I said 'Oh no, we need variety sweetheart'. She proceeded to ask 'What kind of books did you like mum when you were my age?'. This made me so happy, I now looked at the books with a new pair of eyes. I found the classics, Hansel and Gretel. I found fantasy, Chronicles of Narnia. I found comics, Superman. It was so delightful.
Eventually we found ourselves not just creating but evolving our very own tradition. 12 weeks in, she expressed her wish for her friends to participate and I got to thinking. I am an advocate for surrounding oneself with people who will drive you forward to achieve great things. You may not find this in every classroom but after school, I could help create that environment for my daughter. With extra-curricular clubs almost extinct, I would love for parents to look at their children's interest and look for activities outside playing to engage their minds. The key thing of course is affordability and time!
Alexandra and I sat down to plan an activity with her friends around our tradition. I had made it a habit to select books that taught her a moral or value and got her to practice it and rewarded her for every book she read with Birthday dollars and points for practicing what she learned. She has come to appreciate watching TV LESS, YES LESS by enjoying reading the stories in books and comic books. That is how Parables and Pages was born. We have gone shopping for our new venture to find books for every month of the year as well as practicing her own writing. At the time of me writing this, Alexandra has written her first short story about her family off course and after an avid interest in rhymes, written her first four lines of rhyme with little help which I will share below.
I love to read with mum,
It's my favourite treat,
It helps me see what I can become,
When words and imagination meet!
Alexandra Lawson, November 2017.
I cannot tell you how much pride and joy I felt helping her with this. I come from a family of academics, writers, law and medical professionals. My grandmother was an english teacher and she would be so proud. I was 7 in 4th grade so I know what my daughter can achieve. What a difference 5 months of consistent love and productive activity with a child makes. This is what teachers get to see everyday and I am happy to be a part of it. Oh what wonderful things my daughter will be, all because she loves to read.
I would like to close this blog post with a link from The PBS Parents website. They share a great article about the importance of reading for a child's success. Remember, don't be worried about the mainstream measure of your child, whatever they struggle with, take the time to make it fun and help them with love. Try to remember yourself at that age and what you would do the same or different. Share that revelation with your child. Give them the chance to lead and see the wonders they will achieve.