Friday, June 27, 2014

Resource:Start Reading!

I have had many parents ask me “what is the best way to assure my child will be a good reader?”
The answer is easy, free, and enjoyable: read to your children – every day.

Here is a short clip on recent research that supports many years’ worth of research:

It almost seems too easy to be true. Parents do not have to spend lots of money on reading programs, do not have to design elaborate study routines, or even devise complicated reward programs.

Just sit them next to you and read. 

If they are young and especially wiggly, read to them for as long as they will stay with you and try to make the reading session a little bit longer each day. If your child is happy to sit and listen, then learn to engage them in the story by asking questions or encouraging them to predict what will happen next.

Here is a short list of the benefits:

Language development: not only vocabulary, but also language patters that will help your child decode words.

Brain development: A child’s brain is busy trying to figure out what is important and what is not. When you read every day you will help your child to strengthen the reading, language, and learning parts of the brain. 

Social skills development: stories will help your child to develop empathy and pro-social skills.

Self-regulation: children who learn to sit still and pay attention to a story will also be able to perform this skill in school. 

Abstract thinking: stories encourage children to keep a mental map of what is happening. This is important to comprehension, but also develops abstract thinking skills used in creativity.

Do not forget to include Bible books in your reading time. 

Do not stop reading to your children when they learn to read on their own. You will continue to develop their language and comprehension by reading stories that are a bit too hard for them to read.

Your local public library can supply you with more books than you can imagine. If you purchase books and find your children have outgrown them, consider donating them to a city mission, a childcare center, or leave them at your pediatrician’s office for parents to take home.

Spread the love! Spread the reading!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Parenting: Grace Abounds

This NPR blog post came up on my Facebook feed this morning. I found it interesting because it is written by someone in the same field I study: cognitive and developmental psychology. 

What she writes is good advice – from a psychology point of view. However, something BIG is missing. 

Here is the article:

When she talks about rats and levers she is referring to behaviorism and methods that involve punishment and reward. She is pointing out a “gap” in parenting because knowing a behavior is wrong is not enough to stop it. She encourages parents to go beyond punishment and reward to change behavior.

Her words are good advice, but not enough.

When we punish and reward our children, or when we punish and reward ourselves as parents, we are applying the law. The law is good; it shows us what God expects, it shows us how we fall short, it shows us we need God. 

But, if we use law alone, we create a gap between us and God. Punishment, reward, and adherence to the law will never close that gap.

God closes it with grace, with mercy, with forgiveness and with the unconditional love that caused Him to send His Son to redeem us from our sins and to send His Spirit to work in our hearts.

Secular parenting advice can give us new techniques and help us to think about what we do as parents – but it can never fill the gap.

If you are hoping to become a better parent here is what God recommends:

Repent - so that your children see that you are forgiven.

Forgive - so that they know the wonder of this grace.

Show mercy, and support your children in their efforts to behave – so that they see how the Spirit supports you.

Love unconditionally – so that your children experience God’s love every day.

Read God’s word – so that your faith is strengthened.

Pray – and know that God fills the gap. 

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16: 33, RSV)