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Want to Raise Smart, Kind Kids? Science Says Do This Every Day (Click the link to learn more)
Want to Raise Smart, Kind Kids? Science Says Do This Every Day
By Kelly| This content may contain affiliate links.
Inside: When it comes to raising smart kids who are kind, you need this powerful but simple habit. It’s completely free, it takes just 10 or 15 minutes a day, and anyone can do it.
As parents, we have big dreams for our kids.
We want them to be smart so they can go after what they want in life and have a reasonable chance of getting it. We want them to grow up to be kind, caring members of the community. And it would be nice if they also turned out to be the type of people who remember to signal before turns.
That’s a tall order. Especially when I consider the day a success if I remember to brush all my kids’ teeth twice a day.
And yet, now is the time to set our kids up for success in life. Short of morphing into a drill sergeant who fills every spare moment with flashcards and forced kindness, how can we raise smart and kind kids?
Here’s the Good News About Raising Smart Kids
As it turns out, we have one magic “keystone habit” as parents that will help us raise smart, kind kids.
If you haven’t heard of keystone habits before, they’re an elite category of habits that kick off a chain reaction, influencing several areas of your life at once. In other words, you can focus on just one keystone habit, and you’ll experience several positive impacts. For example:
“Keystone habits explain how Michael Phelps became an Olympic champion and why some college students outperform their peers. They describe why some people, after years of trying, suddenly lose forty pounds while becoming more productive at work and still getting home in time for dinner with their kids.”
– The Power of Habit
The best thing about this particular “keystone habit” for raising smart, kind kids is that it’s completely free, it takes just 10-15 minutes a day, and anyone can do it.
To get smart, kind kids, you don’t have to sign your kid up for expensive tutoring or have twice-daily screenings of the movie Wonder.
All you have to do is this: Read to your child. Even if they already know how to read to themselves.
Because research shows reading aloud is the powerful keystone habit that will raise smart, kind kids. (More on that in a minute.)
Bonus: As a bonus for joining my weekly newsletter, download a FREE family read-aloud challenge kit, which includes a bingo-style challenge and a cheat sheet of practical tips for how to make it easier to find read-aloud time even when you’re busy.
But This Is What Gets in Our Way
As parents, the demands on our time are endless.
We have laundry to fold, sibling battles to mediate, and healthy dinners to prepare. Our kids need help with homework, the car is due for an oil change, and it’s our turn to bring snacks after the t-ball game. We need to make doctor appointments, deposit a check at the bank, and sew that seam that ripped in our best work pants.
On and on and on.
This is why when it comes to reading aloud to our kids, we tend to prioritize it lower. I know I do. In a 2018 survey of American families, only 30 percent of parents reported reading aloud to their kids for at least 15 minutes a day.
I try to read to my kids regularly, but for two weeks I tracked how many picture books I read aloud, and I was shocked. I’d only read to my kids 6 out of 14 days – not even half of the days.
And so to soothe my guilt, I decided to dig into exactly what reading aloud to your kid accomplishes. I wondered: When it comes to raising smart kids, is reading aloud truly all it’s cracked up to be?
The Single Habit That Raises Smart, Kind Kids?
This is what happens when you read aloud to your child every day:
- Your child will hear a wider variety of words. Here’s why this is important: “The one pre-kindergarten skill that matters above all others, because it is the prime predictor of school success or failure, is the child’s vocabulary upon entering school. Yes, the child goes to school to learn new words, but the words he already knows determine how much of what the teacher says will be understood. And since most instruction for the first four years of school is oral, the child who has the largest vocabulary will understand the most, while the child with the smallest vocabulary will grasp the least.” – The Read-Aloud Handbook
- You grow your child’s brain, literally. The more you read to your child, the more the neurons in her brain will grow and connect together.
- You put her on the path to be a lifelong reader. Reading is essential for the learning process, and kids who struggle with reading tend to struggle in school. But you have the power to give your child this one key to success in school and life because: “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”– Becoming a Nation of Readers
- Your child’s behavior will improve. When you read aloud, you increase your child’s ability to pay attention and concentrate – skills that definitely help your child in school. Also, reading aloud to a child can even decrease aggressive tendencies in the child.
- You build a stronger bond with your child. Kids love when you read aloud to them because of the physical closeness and emotional bonding it offers: “We’re blown away that kids time and again said the most special time they recall spending with a parent is reading together.” This makes sense when you think about it. In our busy modern lives, how often do we stop everything we’re doing, put down our phones, and just enjoy time with our kids? A strong connection with your child leads to better cooperation from them, and that’s something pretty much every parent could use more of.
- You increase your child’s capacity for empathy. When you read fiction to your child, her brain is “literally living vicariously through the characters at a neurobiological level.” In other words, you’re exposing your child to different types of people and giving her the ability to put herself in their shoes while you read. Growing your child’s empathy muscle will teach her to be a friend who empathizes, a partner who can see her partner’s side in a disagreement, and a compassionate person who helps others in need.
The moral of my little research project? The one single habit of reading aloud to your child kicks off a chain reaction of all these positive outcomes, and more. If you’re looking for the secret to raising smart kids, reading aloud is it.