Back in July, we wrote a detailed article about the importance of parental involvement in the education of children. One critically important element of that is parents or carers actively reading with their children. Indeed, parent-child reading has been proposed as a possible solution to the performance deficit often experienced by children from lower socio-economic backgrounds (through no fault of their own). That makes parent-child reading incredibly important as a way of evening up the playing field and ensuring that pre-school children are completely prepared when the time comes to move to school and beyond. If not, research shows that they are likely to do worse at school and go on to have poorer life outcomes generally.
The research is compelling
A study funded by the Nuffield Foundation, whose mission is to advance educational opportunity and social wellbeing, looked at the impact of adult-child reading from data gathered over 40 years. The results are frankly astounding.
“Reading with pre-school children boosts language skills by eight months.”
That’s incredible when you bear in mind that the children studied were, on average, just 3¼ years old. An 8 month skills boost is therefore equivalent to an extra fifth of their entire lives! Such an impact, at a time when they’re right in the middle of their pre-school years, is incredibly important for them. After all, this is a critical time in their learning and development — and one that will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives.
Reading with children is the key
You may have noticed that we said reading with children, rather than to them. It makes sense to involve the children in the reading process, so they learn from parents/carers and pick up little nuggets of information and know-how as they progress, together, through each book. For example, parents can
Many parents will be all-too-familiar with how fussy toddlers can be when it comes to food. Some children will even avoid certain foods, absolutely refusing to try them, based solely on how they look. This can be infuriating! In the extreme, it can also potentially pose a risk to the healthy balance of a child’s diet.
Give peas a chance!
Many adults, myself included, will recall that we were just the same at some point during childhood. Later on, we may realise how delicious something really is, even if we thought we didn’t like it when we were young. I recall believing that peas were incredibly dull and should be avoided at all costs, for example. I now believe them to be amongst the tastiest vegetables on the planet! Nothing material has really changed about peas, so it’s my perception of them that has changed; I simply needed to give them a chance.
Other foods can become an ‘acquired taste’. For example, many youngsters initially perceive olives as being quite disgusting. Later on as adults, however, many of the same people end up adoring them. Sometimes, it’s just a case of mentioning this weird facet of human nature to your toddler. Trying to reason – and empathise – with them in this way may well register with them eventually. Despite appearances, children often take such messages in, even though they might refuse some foods, point blank, at first. This eventual acceptance often gradually occurs as they become more mature in mind as well as in body.
Food refusal is normal, so don’t stress
If your child’s refusal to eat certain foods is making you stressed, take a moment to realise that this is perfectly normal. Indeed, many toddlers go through such a phase in their earliest years. If they’ve recently been breastfeeding, they will have become accustomed to a sweet-tasting diet. When they are weaned onto solids and suddenly become mobile, it’s natural for them to be wary of eating just anything — it’s so new to them. In fact, refusing some foods is an instinctive survival mechanism. It’ll take time for them to become accustomed to new tastes and textures.
“If your child gives you a resounding no, try, try and try again.”
What’s more, it’s known that it can take about 10 to 15 instances of exposure to a particular food before many young children will accept it. So, if your child gives you a resounding no, it’s really best for both of you to try, try and try again. After all, it would be such a shame for them to miss out on something delicious and nutritional for the rest of their lives.
What else can parents do?
As well as the straight forward perseverance approach outlined above, there are a number of things that parents and carers can do to encourage preschoolers to eat a more varied diet and to give new food types a try …
Research has repeatedly proved that parents have an enormous impact on their children’s education, particularly if they’re involved right from the early years. That impact can be hugely positive if the parents get it right. In this article, we explore the many benefits of parental involvement in children’s education, how parents can support their children from nursery to university, improve their success, maximise their personal and career potentials and thereby give children the very best start in life. That is priceless.
“It has been proven time and time again that parents who invest time and place value on their children’s education will have children who are more successful in school.” (Meador)
The positive impact of parental help for children cannot be overstated. A well-supported child will go on to get better grades and ultimately be eligible for wider, higher quality, career choices once they’re older and ready to leave education. So the message is: if you’re a parent that wants your child to do as well as possible in their education and development, then your child needs your support. Be ready for the long-haul, though, because they will need your support at nursery, throughout their school years and even into higher education.
Research¹ has shown that parents can help improve their child’s development and education irrespective of: how well they did at school themselves; their socioeconomic status and ethnic/racial background.
What are the benefits of closer parental involvement?
As we mentioned above, parental involvement in a child’s development and education can ultimately lead to better results in school and enhanced life choices later on. That’s just the tip of the ice berg, though. Benefits for the child include