Q: I am a financial analyst for a large firm. I am not qualified to plan lessons and teach my first grader, but here I am, with no choice. I am working at home now during the school closure due to the coronavirus. I don't want to be a lazy parent by sitting my daughter in front of a TV or computer and having her play games. Education is important in our family, and she is an intellectually curious child, but there is only so much math I can teach her. Any suggestions?
A: Thank you for being a responsible parent and wanting your child to become an active learner. Engaging children early to develop learning routines prepares them for living a successful life. Your daughter is lucky to have a parent capable of teaching her the basics of math, as mathematical ability is an important skill used throughout life, regardless of one's career. The next area of critical importance is reading.
According to Time4Learning, "First grade children should be involved in reading worksheets, reading activities, reading games, reinforcement exercises, and assessments." These activities develop a child's vocabulary, along with reading comprehension and writing. These skills tie into listening and speaking skills as well. Though you're not a teacher, you're an educated parent who can serve as a positive role model in your child's learning. Review online children's books, reading programs and reading workbooks, and choose books in your child's age group. Reading is an individual skill that involves an innate brainpower, so some books may be too simple, while others may be too difficult for your daughter.
Be patient and understanding with her speed of learning. You may discover she's an exceptional learner or a slower learner due to potential learning disabilities such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder or even poor eyesight. Healthline explains dyslexia as a lifelong problem. "Adults with dyslexia may have gone undiagnosed at school and may mask the problem well at work, but they may still struggle with reading forms, manuals, and tests required for promotions and certifications. They might also have difficulty with planning or short-term memory."
Many of these adults who struggled in school were not well accepted by their peers, as they slowly progressed and underperformed throughout formal educational systems. This then may have led to an overall lack of confidence, which could lead to a child being bullied for being slow. The child may then misbehave and bully peers in return as a defense mechanism, thinking it's better to look as though he or she doesn't care than to be thought of as stupid or slow.
If you don't feel comfortable teaching reading and writing, read sample pages of the many children's books out there, purchasing only the ones you think may interest your child. Just because a book is published doesn't mean it is a good book -- whether it's published by a professional publishing company or self-published.
Look for reading workbooks filled with stories, comprehension exercises and writing assignments. Depending on your location, many libraries offer online services where you may find reading programs for various ages. Don't force reading. If your child pushes away from the activity, it may be due to a problem with her inability to grasp the skill.
Children can range from sensitive to uncaring, but as a loving parent, you can fill a gap that formal teachers may not. Just as all books are not necessarily good books, not all teachers are good teachers. This time spent together for home schooling may be the most positive contribution you can make in your child's development. Schools can't do it all, and a positive experience learning with a loving parent can set the stage for further development.
Email career and life coach: Lindsey@LindseyNovak.com with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.