Every good parent wants to raise children who succeed in the world, but some kids do better than others once they leave the nest. If you want to do everything you can to prime your offspring for health, happiness and prosperity, take some advice from Marlin Detweiler, president and cofounder of Veritas Press, which develops and sells curricular materials to Christian schools and home schools, along with operating an online school. The company also developed an app that teaches reading called the Phonics Museum. Here are his words on what parents can do to help their kids grow up to have a fruitful life.
1. Encourage curiosity.
Children are born with a natural curiosity about life. Don’t kill it. Our job, as parents, is to foster the curiosity intrinsic in all children. This means in all stages of life. Even as your child heads into the teenage years, you can encourage him or her to understand how things they are interested in are connected. How did the War for Independence and the War Between the States connect? How did the development of art and the development of philosophical thought connect? Not only does this help a child understand the world, it teaches cause and effect.
2. Own their education.
No one cares about your child’s education as much as you do. You must be his or her advocate and not just assume that a child is getting what is needed.
3. Make sure their education is right for them.
Not all children learn in the same way. Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner or a kinesthetic (hands-on) learner? Make sure he or she is provided the opportunity to learn according to how the child is wired.
4. Begin developing the tools of learning.
Little kids love to learn, so give them the opportunity to explore. Reading, writing and math are the building blocks of all academic learning. Use the many tools available: apps, books, web sites, games and television.
5. Teach them Latin.
This is not learning a foreign language. Learning Latin is a tool of leverage for developing the language skills for speakers of English. Most of our language comes from Latin. Its study – starting around third grade – will develop a child’s understanding of vocabulary, grammar, sayings and expressions. It will aid his or her understanding of science, law, government and theology. It will help the child learn modern foreign languages. And it will train his or her mind.
6. Encourage reading.
When your child is young, reading to him or her gives more exposure to the big world and exposes interest. As a child gets older, encourage him or her to read independently and make sure the reading ability is developing. Reading helps a child to continue to discover new things and ideas. It can also give him or her a head start when school begins. Don’t be fooled by the standards observed around you. Kids can do more than we think they can. They did in the past, and they can now. Nearly all children can be fluent readers by the end of first grade.
7. Teach them how to communicate winsomely.
We taught our children rhetoric–the kind that Aristotle popularized. The ability to communicate winsomely cannot be overrated in almost any area for the success of an adult.
8. Grease the skids of their interests.
As your child gets older and prepares to go on to college, don’t diminish his or her dreams. If a child demonstrates commitment and sustained interest in something, do all you can to provide him or her opportunity in it. One of our kids, at the age of 13, had an Internet business that included more than one dozen NBA players, just because we encouraged and subsidized his interest. Today, his entrepreneurial endeavors continue.
9. Love them and tell them so.
This is important at every stage of your child’s life. A 2013 UCLA study found when parents show their children unconditional love, it can lead to a child being more emotionally happy and less anxious. Showing your child love teaches him or her the proper way to show affection toward others and ensues compassion. Raising children is a tremendous blessing, even though it’s difficult at times. Enjoy every minute. It’s over before you realize it.