Take Another Look: The Morning Walk to the Bus Stop
With consistency and practice, parents can redefine the benefits of spaces they frequent with their children in urban areas.
Few things bring us at BTG more joy then seeing kids excitedly engaged in conversation with their parents, hand in hand, during their morning travels to school and work. For many kids, this precious time with their parents is so valuable because it may be the only time in their day where they can have their heroes’ undivided attention. It’s a time when a child’s inquisitive mind can release the waves of questions splashing back and forth in their heads about the world and how it works. For working class parents, this morning talk can be the ideal time for positive and language rich interactions with their youngest children, especially if work obligations keep you away from the home late into the night.
Today, we can say unequivocally, the factor with the greatest impact on cognitive development and the most reliable indicator of future academic success for our children is their earliest language environment. In other words, nothing matters more to a child’s school readiness than Parent Talk starting inside the home. And guess what? It’s completely FREE. Referring to the number of words a parent speaks to a child and the way in which a parent speaks to a child, parent language influences our ability to reach our potentials in math, spatial reasoning, literacy, our ability to regulate behavior, our reaction to stress, our perseverance and even our moral fiber.
As we see it, we can never discount the day to day moments we have with our children to engage them with Positive Parent Talk. A short walk to the bus stop offers you a chance to listen and talk to your child every single day. Taking the time to listen and focus on what she’s sharing with you will only encourage her to talk more, communicate with confidence and be better prepared to learn when she gets to school. Remember, your conversations are developing early literacy skills such as sound recognition, vocabulary and narration. Every time she is telling you a story, or sharing anything with you for that matter, make sure to ask open-ended questions. Not only are you encouraging her to continue narrating, but now she will need to rely upon her imagination and critical thinking skills in order to piece her responses together. And by tuning in to her story, you are communicating to her that she is in a safe space, that you care about what she thinks and you are bringing stability to her world, something her brain needs for proper development.
Lastly, if you take another look, you will also see the math and science embedded within your morning travels. We know Parent Talk shapes brains and a child’s potential in several academic domains, including STEM. Once again, studies have shown that a child’s early math foundation, and thus predictably their potential in STEM, is directly rooted to parent talk, or in this case math talk. Children’s math abilities when they enter school are significantly impacted by their engagement in various conversations involving numbers and words indicating shapes and sizes (circle, square, triangle, larger, round, pointed , tall, short, etc.) The more effort parents put into pointing out and naming numbers, the quicker children will be able to identify numbers independently. Take the time to highlight the bus number, the number of people waiting for the bus, the number of seats, doors and windows on the bus. Since children’s brains are already wired to collect data incessantly, your morning walk offers some experiments to support a strong, early math foundation. For example, count aloud the number of steps or seconds it takes to get from your door stop to the bus stop to measure distance. Ask your child to track the number of seconds it takes for the bus to come to a complete stop to measure speed. Have your child calculate the number of minutes passed between scheduled pick up times according to the posted bus schedule. Ask them why there are more scheduled pick ups during certain times of the day such as in the morning and early evening.
Leave a comment below about what you and your kids like to talk about on your morning walks. What numbers do you notice on your journey? How long is your morning walk? Let us know when you try to use any of these suggestions and how your kids responded. We will be back later in the week highlighting another locale in your neighborhood that you can transform into a learning lab for your child.