I just finished listening to "Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids who Thrive". This is one of many courses offered by "The Great Courses" and I really enjoyed this one. Basically, a lot of tips is provided to parents to help them provide an environment for kids to reach their full potential in a lot of fields like math, reading, social life, self-confidence, etc, etc. These "tips" are backed by various research and studies. Some of them seem common sense, but some can come as interesting surprises.
Without going into much detail, and I definitely recommend checking the course for that, here are some of the tips that I found most interesting:
- Talk and read to your child a lot;
- Have them learn a 2nd language;
- Lots of tummy time early;
- Attach sticky velcro mittens to a baby so they can "attach" items to themselves;
- Let them play with wooden blocks of different shapes;
- Don't really force a child to eat, but try to encourage them to eat anything. Include lots of vegetables. I remember reading "Bringing Up Bébé", and how the american mother would say there were no kids menu in a french restaurant. Kids were supposed to eat the same food as their parents;
- No TV for kids before 2 years old.
- For older kids, when they get to watch TV, make sure they have already engaged in more productive activities before, and they are not exposed to violence. Seek also some education context like Sesame Street or Caillou;
- Video games are ok, but prefer the non-violent and preferably ones that have an interesting story);
- Music lessons;
- Expose kids to lots of "mathematical" situations like having them estimate how much the supermarket is going to cost based on the items they see being added to the shopping cart, etc;
- By 10, kids should master fractions (this was really interesting);
- Model good social behavior by having the kids seeing how you help and share with others. Volunteer at a community service;
- Praise kids for their effort since there are a lot of things in life we cannot control. "Failure" is ok;
- Have them practice Yoga or tae-kwon-do. This helps with self control and discipline;
- Have them participate in team sports, but beware of sports that expose kids at higher risk of head injuries like Football (mainly) and soccer.
- Have a pet like a dog that they can play with;
- There is no need to rush a kid development. Let them play a lot!