Parenting Tips

Reading aloud to your child strengthens the part of their brain associated with visual imagery, the ability to understand stories and word meaning. Six-year-olds still love the comfort of cuddling up for a good story. And with your help, they can also pick up on important book smarts, like information about authors, illustrators, chapters, the table of contents, page numbers, indexes and back covers. These skills are called "concepts about print," and they help kids prepare to be successful independent readers.

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One of the most powerful ways to develop your child's literacy skills is also the easiest: talk to your kids! At age three, most kids name colors and put objects in basic groups (like food or animals). They can also begin to use words to express their emotions and ideas, instead of just naming what they see. Your three-year-old can understand more words than he or she can express. When you talk with them, you can help them learn new words and find language to express their sometimes overwhelming emotions as they make sense of the world.

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From taking their first steps to learning how to read, children gain self-confidence as they master new skills. This gives them the courage to continue to explore and expand their abilities. As you encourage their independence, you may also need to help them talk through their frustrations and fears. As you see them express interest in trying something new, teach them strategies that will help them master the skill. They will develop confidence as they practice these new tasks and recognize their progress.

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As parents, it’s only natural to wonder if we’re doing a good job raising our kids. We are bombarded with information from many sources — from parenting “experts” to well-meaning family members — about what we “should” be doing. The truth is, what a child actually needs is a caregiver who shows them love and tries their best.

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Compassion means we care about others, treat them with kindness, and feel a strong desire to help people in need. Compassion is empathy in action. For a six-year-old, compassion might look like giving a hug, making a card, or saying something kind to help a friend or family member who is feeling sad or upset. It can also look like reaching out to a peer who has been left out – or hearing about a community need and wanting to do something to help others, even if they do not know them.

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My 4-year-old had been excited about her cousin’s birthday party for weeks. We guessed the flavor of the birthday cake and worked together to wrap the present. Yet, as we walked up to the party, something shifted: my excited girl was now clutching my pant leg, unwilling to introduce herself to the young party-goers. She even shoved aside a slice of cake. The tears and less-than-pleasant behavior soon followed.

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