Sunday, August 25, 2013

Kid Know-How

So much has been written about over-scheduling our children and the pressure on time and talent we put on them by constantly running them to soccer or piano lessons. These pressures seem to start younger and younger. But I do think that there are three essential skills we should be teaching as early as possible.

In order to survive in the world (and I do mean survive), a child needs to:
  • Learn how to swim. I believe that this is the most important skill you can teach a young child. As soon as the little one is old enough to hit the water, start getting him used to putting his face and head into the wet stuff without causing panic. I know that there are techniques that teach infants how to rise to the top and stay afloat. Not sure how well those methods work, but don't leave it too late to hit the YMCA or local swimming class.
  • Learn his/her name, address, phone number. Children are great at learning their first and last names (usually with the middle one thrown in) early. Toddler ego demands it. But once children have a basic knowledge of numbers (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - not algebra or trig), they can learn to string them together correctly for addresses and phone numbers. Little kids are wizards at rote memorization, so while they're learning "Twinkle, twinkle little star," toss in "324 Oak Street" and "555-231-9876."
  • Learn how to use 911 properly. After they've mastered name/address/phone number, it might be time for 911 training, though a child needs some maturity to understand when dialing 911 is appropriate (and the dire repercussions involved if they dial it as a joke). There are too many stories of 4- and 5-year-olds who have saved the lives of a parent or sibling because they knew when and how to call 911. 
So before you sign your precious darling up for ballet or football, make sure s/he can swim. Really. If the child is old enough to point and flex or kick a ball, it's old enough to hit the pool. And be aware of when little honey boo-boo is mature enough to use 911. The life she saves may be yours.

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