I received some very interesting question from one of the readers of this blog and I want to share them here.
1) How do you improve reading and writing skills in children?
The best way to raise a voracious reader is to create an intolerable home environment that the child will be desperate to escape. She will try to escape through books and will grow up to be a professor of literature. To ensure the complete success of this project, never let her outside and make sure she is incapable of making friends.
Jokes aside, here is what I have to say on the subject. During every stage in life we solve different problems and achieve different goals through different methods. The main goal of a child is to develop and get socialized. This is achieved through one crucial activity: playing. There is no person on this planet who is working with a psychoanalyst to address the problems arising from her or him not having read enough books as a child. However, there are crowds of people who are seeking psychological help because they didn’t get to play as children.
A 9-year-old who frequently says, “I don’t want to go out and play, I’d just rather sit here and read” gladdens the hearts of many adults. However, this is a child who is much more at risk for subsequent psychological problems who prefers to run around with other kids day and night.
Play – any kind of play, but especially active play outside with other kids – is the most crucial activity any child can engage in. There will be ample time to read, write, study, and work later in life. But there will never again be time to play.
For people who fear that children will not be successful professionally and economically if they don’t engage in educational activities since the cradle, let me share the story of a man I know who didn’t even know the letters of the alphabet until the age of 7. Much later in life, he got a PhD and is now a voracious leader and a very high earner. He is also one of the most brilliant intellectuals I have ever met, which is one of the reasons I married him.
I realize that I’m not really answering the question that was posed to me. However, in our developed societies, parents who only have 1 or 2 children have way too much energy to format, observe, and mold that poor little kid. And those who don’t have that time and energy (because they have more kids than that or because they are too occupied, etc.) feel guilty for not being able to dedicate every second of their existence to doing educational activities with the children. Just a few weeks ago, a was talking to a woman who had 2 kids and then when the youngest was 4 also had twins. So now she is feeling enormously guilty for being “a bad mother” because she lets the two eldest kids play in the backyard all day long while she takes care of the twins. I tried to communicate to her that her kids were lucky little tykes and she had nothing to feel bad about but she didn’t look like she believed me.
2) How do you raise them to know the value of hard work? Being a plodder is so underrated!
It’s true that the world belongs to patient plodders. The only way, however, to foster the love of work in children is by personal example. The child who sees his or her parents happy and excited about their work, whatever it may be, will be doomed to finding the work that will make them happy.