I became a teacher by accident. When Leo, my first child, was born, my journey as an educator began. I wanted to teach my baby about the everyday miracles of nature, the poetry of simple words, the exhilaration of music… and instill on him a lifelong love of learning.
Parents are the first -and most influential- teachers for their own children. In fact, the most important factors for academic achievement, and even life success, are early home environment and parental involvement.
What you do today will have a profound impact in your child’s whole life. No other responsibility will be as large or important as becoming the best possible parent.
Here are five things I wish every parent knew.
First years are crucial. Much of what our children need to lead successful lives is established even before they enter kindergarten. A kind, nurturing environment that provides ample stimulation and opportunities for development, as well as proper nutrition, adequate health care and warm, loving relationships with caregivers are vital. Play with your child. Read with her. Sit him on your lap and talk about the wonders of life and love. Offer her your warm embrace as a safe haven for adventure and discovery.
High expectations create high achievers. And we are not precisely talking about pressure here. On the contrary, parents who believe in their children’s potential have no need to push, but to engage. They provide encouragement, coaching and support. Every single child has the seed of genius within.
Want bright kids? Educate yourself. Research has shown that parents with higher levels of education correlate with kids’ better academic performance. It’s not just that educated parents can reach higher socioeconomic status –also a factor for school achievement- but they usually read more, use more sophisticated language and have more positive parental interactions –thus creating quality learning environments at home.
Parents and teachers: we are all on this together. That’s right: we are on the same team. Sometimes it doesn’t look like, I know. There is an unspoken, competitive jerk among us. We feel like parents don’t respect teachers enough. And parents feel like we want to dump on them the blame for everything that does not go well. We bully each other… children get caught in between and that is not fair. So let’s shake hands and, once and for all, make peace. Kids deserve the best version of ourselves.
Dream big and work hard. Become the source of inspiration your child needs. If you are willing to pursue your dreams with dedication and purpose, chances are your child will do exactly the same.