The greatest premise to raising a brighter child is one of time - not hours on end, but quality time; segments of time spent wisely. Another is grasping the opportunity that each new day brings with it. These two factors are more important than any other. The concept of quality time is not a new one, but is one that many families take for granted, or feel unable to accomplish due to the hustle and bustle of being wage-earners. However, once the importance of this time is understood, and the amount of it is realised to be almost minimal, it becomes much easier to accomplish. Sometimes, though, one has to re-think one's attitudes to other people's opinions.
The single most important thing to remember about "teaching" your child, is that learning should be fun. When it is, a child grows up loving to learn, and the learning becomes a much easier task. Every day, there are opportunities to propound this view. Taking the time to experience all there is, each day, on a child's level, not only creates bonds between children and the teaching partner (whether parent, grandparent or teacher) but also lays the groundwork for the idea that learning about things is interesting, and a pleasurable experience. Talking to small children about things they see on the way to the shops, or to the park, helps promote their comprehension and use of language, and the formulating of ideas and opinions. It is not enough for a child merely to mimic an adult's point of view, they are to be encouraged to expound their own observations. You have only to listen to the joy and excitement in a three-year-old's voice when relating a tale of something seen or done, to realise how immensely pleasurable they find this activity. In later years, in a more formal educational setting, their comfort in speaking to others, and their belief in the validity of their own opinions, will enable them to participate more fully in group discussions, debates and public speaking.
Some parents feel awed by the responsibility for the nurturing, not only of this child's body, but of his mind as well. They may feel inadequate, and that they are not clever enough to carry out the task. They need only realise that they can learn at the same time as the child, by opening their minds to the fact that learning is not only accomplished by reading books and passing exams (although this does not intend to diminish the importance of either of those subjects, by that statement). I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of reading, being very much a bookworm myself, and I have always encouraged my grandchildren, and others whose care I have been responsible for, that being able to curl up and look at a good book is a wonderful thing! I have read to babies and toddlers, pre-schoolers and older ones, sharing the fun of a good story. Many evenings, my granddaughter, then aged two and a half, would crawl up on my bed and lay next to nanny; I with my latest read, and she with one of her picture books. Reading is one of the greatest gifts you can help your child to achieve, for with it comes an escape from reality into worlds far away, or to information, or into imagination. I have always felt a deep sadness at the idea of someone being unable to read, and cannot imagine my life had I not been able to.
On these pages, I hope to direct you to other resources and ideas, to help you to give your child, or children, the encouragement and experiences to be the best they can be, throughout their lives. Nothing is a "must-do-or-else", rather it is a "try-this-and-see-if-your-child-likes-it" approach. The idea is for the child to enjoy what he/she is doing. By making learning a "want-to" activity, and by fostering this attitude, they will challenge themselves to learn more. An inquisitive mind is a wonderful thing!
I intend to make my pages age-appropriate, as best I can, although some topics will overlap in that they can be used for various ages, with slight changes in the content. Not everything will be academic, for children need much more to complete their world, and although some activities are traditionally more for one sex than another, they should be seen as life experiences. Men care for babies, so if a boy plays with a doll, use that play to instill fatherly values; if a girl is mechanically minded, let her help with the mechanics on the family car. Use the experiences as they appear. Encouragement and praise are greater promoters of excellence than expectations and criticism.