“ Babies are born as a piece of raw clay, it is upto the parents to mould them the right way..!! ”
Beauty of life is that it begins from a nascent state — babies are born in the form just like that of a raw clay. They are moulded deliberately by parents, and unintentionally by immediate people they come in contact with. Now it is up to the parents whether they consider this responsibility as a liability or as a boundless opportunity.
I realised very early after choosing the path of motherhood that “Parenthood doesn’t just happen, but it is a constant process that requires a futuristic vision.” When I gave birth to my first kid, I was always certain of one thing — ‘I want to make my kids independent right from the beginning’. This would not only make them mentally strong, but also help them become good decision makers in life. Hence, the ‘goal’ of my parenting was set.
Then while looking for the right ‘path’ for it, I identified that it was possible only if I gave them as much knowledge and exposure from my end as much was possible. So right from the initial days of upbringing, both me and my husband, emphasised on two biggest sources for it -
2- Road travel
Here I will be covering the first part — reading.
My daughter was four months old when we moved to Hyderabad, rightly called the ‘IT HUB’ of India. Living in a technology driven environment, when I would look around, I would see tiny tots with their eyes glued to iPads or phones, watching videos of rhymes or stories. It was a very easy way out, especially for mothers spoon feeding their kids. Screen time makes them so engrossed in what they are watching that they eat whatever is put in their mouth. It was a food for thought for me.
I am a strong believer of learning from experiences. So I got two very important learnings by seeing this–
1- distraction helps to feed kids faster, and
2- kids love to live in the fantasy world.
Soon I started using this learning in my life, but with a twist…. I would make my one year old sit on a high chair, serve finger food to her, and to distract her I would sit by her side with a baby book. I would try interesting ways each time to narrate short, easy to understand stories to her from her books. As a result,
1- she started eating her food independently at a very early age
2- she got introduced to the concept of books
Books leave strong imprints on the little minds. What you tell your kids is what you are feeding their brains with. So like all mothers, I too wanted to give her the very best. I would research for good books for kids and would get them for her. As a toddler I would enjoy seeing her play with those little hard page books. She would flip through them, sometimes blabber as if she was reading them to me and I would pretend listening to her. Another story time would be bedtime. I made it a ritual to read a story to her everyday before bedtime. It greatly helped in setting her sleep routine. So that’s how it all began…
Soon books became the love of her life and this little secret got widely spread among her uncles and aunts. They made sure of getting a book for her each time they visited us. In seven years of her life she must have read more than a hundred books. As she grew up, her library at home grew too. By now it has a variety of books from fantasy stories to folk tales, information books to encyclopaedia, activity books, colouring books, Panchatantra, lots of both Indian and foreign author books.
How it helped / benefits extracted -
- She started reading on her own at a very early age
- It has made her knowledgable on various subjects
- It has made her inquisitive
- It has given her a good perspective of the world on a basic level
- She has learnt how to analyse and come out with her own conclusions on various subjects
- It made her moral values stronger
- It made her a confident communicator and helped her gain good social skills
- Now she is slowly beginning to write short stories by herself
- She does research work for her school projects independently
For her achievements, I make sure that I get her books or stationary. It gives me immense contentment that instead of materialistic things, I am gifting her a habit which is helping me to chisel and mould her the way I had foreseen. To help you do the same, here I sum up some small tips which go a long way in inculcating reading habits in kids –
# Introduce board books to your toddlers at a very early age and let them play with them
# Make a separate place for keeping books. Start from one book and slowly set up a library at home
# Teach your kids time and again of how not to tear pages from books
# Research about good books before buying as this is how you are painting the blank canvas of their mind
# Books should be placed where they are easily accessible to them without anyone’s help so that they can see through them whenever they want
# Create small area next to a big window for reading, where ample amount of sunlight comes
# Reading lamps next to bed help to build a habit of reading before sleeping at night
# Read to them a different book each night before making them sleep
# Choose variety of content from moral stories to information books, fictional stories for imagination.
# Tell them to try building their own story from imagination, verbally or by writing depending upon their age group.
To motivate you all I would like to confess here that as a kid i was never into reading books other than the course books. But as I grew I realised I had missed on a very important habit. This gave me more enthusiasm to make extra efforts to inculcate this habit in my kids.
If you liked the journey I am taking, adopt it in your life and you will see the positive changes in your kids. Do feel free to leave your thoughts on the same in the comments section. For those searching for good books in this age group, I can mention a few names.
At the end I would like to conclude that books are the best friends for life, who can never betray you. They have been the best company for my kids, specially during these COVID days when they are almost confined at home. While travelling has taken a back seat, reading has been a very good source of rejuvenation for them. Rightly said by someone -
“ Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where we are ! “