I didn’t plan a 16 year gap between my children, but that’s what occurred. And I’m often asked by other parents if this has served as an advantage? Here’s a bit of what I tell them.
Time does fly.
An advantage of having gone through this is having a real notion of how fast time passes and how important it is that we enjoy our time with our children. I was not expecting my daughter, Mailey to turn 18 so soon. And my son, Kian who is two, will be 18 before I know it. So I can’t put off any plans. The things I teach him now, will prepare him for kindergarten and will set him up for success throughout his schooling.
If I knew then what I know now…
Reading. I read to my daughter but not on a regular basis and I didn’t have an array of books around the house to encourage her to read. Today, I read to Kian every day. He picks the books, and we sit and read or just look at the pictures and point out objects. I also make the books accessible to Kian throughout the house so he can always pick up a book. My choice to read to Kian everyday is influenced by knowing a lot more about the many benefits that come from reading.
Toys. Mailey had a lot of toys, but I didn’t know which toys were helping with the different parts of her development. This time around, I’m much more in tune. Knowing this, I’m trying to offer a balance with the different types of toys to help Kian’s development and to introduce new interests. So he’ll go from playing with water toys, to painting, to his tool set, to running outside with his ball, and so on. Another thing I learned that I’m applying with Kian is using his toys to redirect his energy. For example, when he was throwing everything he would get his hands on, we bought him lots of balls and encouraged him to throw those. It worked! And when he started banging everything in the house with hard objects, we bought him a tool set. It worked!
Routine. Mailey had a routine since she was very young, but around middle school I began to become a bit more lenient with homework time. She would come home, eat, and hang out for a bit and then she would start her homework. The older she got the more that time between eating and starting homework grew. With Kian, I plan to instill work first, and stick to it to develop a strong sense of responsibility and time management.
Develop their interests. I didn’t know to look closely at Mailey for signs of what she liked to do, and I waited until she was in high school to ask her what she liked. Had I payed closer attention, she would have been in art classes early on. Instead I put her in other activities which didn’t last. With Kian, I want to pay attention to what his interests are and ask him what he’d like to try and offer him outlets in which to express those interests.
Explore the college preparation process. Mailey and I did a pretty good job preparing for the college process, but it could have been better. With Kian, it already started with us reading, playing, talking to him, and teaching him about the world around him. We’re preparing him for elementary school, middle school, and then high school while paying close attention to what classes he needs to take. We’ll make sure that he is involved in extracurricular activities and in the community. We’ll begin talking about potential colleges early in high school, and hopefully we’ll tour most colleges his junior year. This way there is less to do his senior year since there is already so much for them to worry about their final year of high school.
What I Wouldn’t Change
I’ve worked so hard to do the best I can for Mailey. And although I’m not perfect, I’m proud of many things. Mailey is a kind person with strong values and a good head on her shoulders. For now, I will continue to work hard as a mommy in hopes to say the same about my son in 16 years.
Monica Luna Gonzalez
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