Sharon Wilkins


Educator  ~  Speaker  ~  Author
President of Wilkins Learning Center

Advice from Sharon . . .

                       "Parents are the most important teachers a child will ever have!"

Here are five ways parents can give their child a giant head start.

I Hear You

Give your child the Gift of Being Heard (we're too busy doing, rather than being, with our children.) Have you ever been talking to an adult and knew in your heart the person wasn't listening to you? How did you feel? Not valued? Your child feels the same way.

Try to make a conscious effort to look at your child when he talks to you. If you can't stop what you're involved in, tell your child, "I promise to listen to you when I'm done." By doing this, you'll send the message, "I care about what you have to say." If you lead by example and listen intently, chances are your child will model you!

Read!  Read!  Read!
One of the best gifts a parent can give his child is the time spent reading together. Picture books teach concepts and provide a way for discussion about the story. There are many books that use animal characters to deal with difficult life situations such as a bully on the playground, a messy room, or fear of the dark.

My book, Ready for Kindergarten, lists over 80 books to read to children. Also, visit your nearby library and ask the librarian for help on any subject. They are in the know!

Raise a Responsible Child
Encourage your child to:

1. Put her toys away
2. Dress himself
3. Help set and clean the table at mealtime
4. Prepare simple foods, such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
5. Cut with scissors, and other skills

Compliment your child with encouraging words such as "Way to go!" Top that off with a giant hug. Children are just like us; they feel good when they can do things by themselves. Keep in mind though, that their little hands won't be able to do it just like Mommy. When your child tries to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for the first time, smile even when the jelly goes on places other than the bread!

Respect Reaps Rewards
Discuss what respect means and ways to solve problems peacefully. Make sure your child knows that hitting, biting, and yelling are not appropriate. Chances are that if your child sees you handle your problems calmly and respectfully, he will, too.

Children learn from us. Staying calm isn't easy, but if you try to choose peace, you'll not only be a great example, but you'll be able to think better and not regret any words said in haste.

Play! Play! Play!
Provide a variety of experiences for your child to be creative while interacting with friends. Creative play builds social skills. Go to the grocery store and get some free boxes. Your backyard could become a ship or a castle with markers and scissors. Kids love this activity and have great ideas.

At the end of the day, tuck your child into bed and compliment him about how kind he was to his friends. Say, "I bet you're going to have a lot more friends, because you share and use kind words." Seal the comment with a kiss!

*Excerpted from Ready for Kindergarten, Zondervan Publishers.