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whiteliondreams's avatar

What can I teach my daughter?

Asked by whiteliondreams (1698 points ) June 18th, 2012

I have a four year old girl who lives with her mother in Texas. I am slightly concerned for her educational upbringing and I am hoping she is not a slow learner as I was, but what is more is that I want to be able to be ready to answer many of her questions and give her parental guidance on where to go to school, what profession she should look into, what sports are interesting and physically strengthening for women, socialization and how to be cautious about the people she spends time with, and finally and most importantly, financial security. Words of experience?

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18 Answers

marinelife's avatar

She’s 4, You have a long time to think about that stuff. Most important right now is just spending time with her and playing and being loving. That will give you a foundation to do life lessons later on.

The best way to teach her is by example not lecturing.

bongo's avatar

I read this the other day. I think they have pretty much hit the nail on the head for this question.

SuperMouse's avatar

Is there anything specific that makes you think she might be a slow learner? Is she in pre-school? If she is going to pre-school I would recommend a NAEYC accredited school.

You can enrich your daughter’s learning by exposing her to lots of new things. Take her to a museum, the zoo, the park. Take her for walks/hikes and point out the flowers, bugs, and other cool things you see along the way. Encourage her to look at the stars and pay attention to the weather. Spend as much time with her as you can, loving her and helping her explore things that are of interest her. One week it might be ladybugs and the next tow trucks.

Read to her. Take her to the library and let her pick out lots and lots of books that interest her then read them. My oldest is almost 14 and we still read aloud every night. It is a great and inexpensive way to introduce your daughter to all kinds of magical and wonderful things!

Finally, I am steadfastly against trying to start any kind of formal academic teaching at this age. You might work on helping her learn to spell and write her name but beyond that don’t worry about it. (If you do teach her to write her name make sure not to teach her in all caps.) All three of my kids went to an NAEYC accredited child directed pre-school with no formal academic lessons. They could write their name when they started kindergarten, but that was about it. I am happy to report that all three of them are well into their careers as students, they all love school and all three are achieving at or above grade level. At four it is all about instilling self-confidence and a love of learning. If you do that effectively everything else will follow!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Teach her what’s important to you. She is absolutely old enough for you to discuss important issues with her, about gender or race or class or whatever. Also, there is no such thing as a slow learner…people are different at learning and our educational system sucks at actually teaching the majority of people. Your anxiety around this issue will rub off on her so never worry too much about that. It’s hard that she’s away from you but I would you absolutely must talk to her on the phone EVERY day.

Judi's avatar

You said she lives in Texas. Do you live somewhere else?
The best child rearing advice I got was to be a student of your child. You can’t give her advice on the profession she should go into or the sports that are interesting until you know HER! If she shows an interest in rocks, learn about geology. If she likes hip hop, learn all the bands. If she likes soccer, learn who is playing in the world cup and who the best players are. If she wants to be a frog (like my daughter did at 4) study marine biology. Discover it with her. If she likes art, learn about art history, read a book, take a class.
Know your child and understand HER interests. Respect her imagination and her dreams so much that you will take the extra effort to learn about them and get excited about them too.

gorillapaws's avatar

Encourage her to ask lots of questions. Use the Socratic method so that she can discover the truth for herself. This is a skill that will empower her and teach her critical reasoning which will ultimately help her to grow into a smart, self-confident woman.

My parents weren’t big on buying toys very often, but they had a policy that they would buy me any book I wanted (as long as I had finished the one before it). Read to/with her as often as you can. Make voices so it’s fun.

thorninmud's avatar

I remember entertaining thoughts like these when our daughter was born. Parenting turned out to be different than I had imagined, though. The kid turns out to be a lot less interested in soaking up your wisdom than you’d like to believe. And you know what? That’s just fine.

I always encountered varying degrees of resistance whenever I tried to overtly serve up wisdom on a plate. I can understand that, because I too resented attempts by my parents to hand me a cheat sheet for life. On some level, I knew that life is about the questions, not the answers, so I didn’t want answers constantly poked at me.

With my kids, I ended up doing a lot more modeling of a life of inquiry, musing with them about why this or that might be so, allowing them to see me as someone who wonders, rather than as a dispenser of answers. There’s still plenty of room for guidance in there; but it becomes more a matter of subtly directing a kid’s attention toward ways of looking at things that they may otherwise overlook, and gently urging them not to easily settle for superficial answers. There’s room for advice, too; but it will be better received if presented in the form of “why I have found that this works best”, or “how I came to this conclusion” rather than as “this is what you should do”.

This requires a degree of willingness to allow the kid to come to different conclusions than yours. They need to know that this is an option.

Sunny2's avatar

@bongo Excellent reference!

JLeslie's avatar

My dad always suggested typically male actvities when I wanted to do a “girl” thing, i wanted to be a cheerleader, he asked me why not a football player? I wanted to marry a millionaire, he sakd I should make my own millions. I still wanted to be the cheerleader, but what I realize in retrospect is I never felt limited by my gender. I felt like every career was open to me, it was just a matter of discovering what I liked.

One thing my father didn’t do was encourage me to pursue things I loved if he felt the activities would not lead to big professional careers, I think that was a mistake. I tend to give up on things easily and be quickly discouraged by negative outside comments. Very successful people tend to have a drve to prove they can do something, I lack it to some extent.

I say teach her everything you know, whatever it is. Fishing, fixing a car, how you think about situations, as she gets older about your job and interests no matter what your job or interests are. Learning from you and with you is part of bonding with her and a time for communicating with her. But, most of all allow her to teach you. If she interested in dance (I highly recommend putting her in a ballet class to at least see if she likes it. Ballet teaches discipline, how to carry oneself with confidence, gracefulness, and a better awareness of where our bodies are) or tennis, or math, or bridges, or trains, or whatever, follow her in her passions, learning and discovering with her. She will want to read about what she is interested in and travel to see those things. It is not just the specific interest, pursuing the interests opens the world and the mind to those other things, reading, travel, research, perserverance.

JLeslie's avatar

Sorry for the second post…definitely teach her about money. That would go for boys and girls. How you make a decision whether to buy something. Do you need it? Can you afford it? Hopefully you have good financial habits and can pass them down to her. I didn’t get everything I wanted and it was fine. I saw my parents debate about whether to make a purchase. Buy the bigger TV or the less expensive smaller one? Fix a pair of shoes or buy a new pair?

Open a savings account with her and let her watch the money add up. Just like the grown ups she will have an account. When she gets money for birthdays she can put it in there. I never spent birthday money I just put it right into savings. A lot of banks have no fee savings accounts for young children if you already bank with them yourself.

As she gets older let her know how much things cost and how long you have to work to afford it. Better yet as a teen encourage her to get a job.

Coloma's avatar

Most importantly you have to allow your daughters unique personality to unfold without trying to force what you think her interests should be. I think teaching curiosity, a love for the natural world, and open mindedness are far more important than sports or the right schools.
I believe that children are just small people, and while we need to guide them as parents we also need to really ask and listen to them.
My daughter was never sports minded as I wasn’t either, but, we both share an insatiable love of learning and a enthusiastic curiosity of the natural world.
Get to know your daughter more before deciding what interests YOU think she should pursuit.
Everyone has a certain life energy and personality style that lends itself to ones own uniqueness.

Forcing un-athletic kids into sports is just as bad as forcing athletic types into intellectual pursuits. The key is to build on natural strengths and not try to force the unnatural.

whiteliondreams's avatar

Thank you everyone. Very, very, very wise and realistic goals you have helped me set. Yes, she lived in Texas with her Mother and I live in Georgia with my partner. I have been so concerned with my daughter’s diet also because I know that diets play a major role in brain development and growth and it concerns me that they consume white rice on a daily basis. Rice does not have many nutrients and vegetables aren’t on the grocery list for daily consumption. I’m in a situation where I cannot afford to have my daughter yet and go to school and succeed with the grades I currently have. I understand sacrifice and potential hindrances that may happen, but I am trying my best to learn whatever I can so that when she asks me a question, I can answer it. I am putting money aside for her college fund, although it isn’t a lot. I am hoping to get a call back from the Air Force Guard to see if I can get a job in service again.

JLeslie's avatar

@whiteliondreams If you are very concerned about her diet maybe have her take a Flinstones vitamin daily. Is she Hispanic? Asian? I only ask because the average American usually doesn’t eat a lot of rice. Hispanics do tend to cook from scratch more than other cultures so maybe her nutrition isn’t very bad?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with @marinelife, your daughter is only now 4yrs old. I’d concentrate ways she can become comfortable with socializing skills instead, especially the differences between socializing with adults versus children.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, she is actually both. She is Puerto Rican and Philippine. I will send her vitamins, that should hold her off until I get her when she is older and I am done with school. Socializing, she has done quite well and much better since she went back with her Mom because she has an older brother and she loves to imitate. I truly and sincerely appreciate everyones comments and suggestions because sometimes we know what to do, but need a reminder.

JLeslie's avatar

@whiteliondreams She is right at the age that she is moving from a vitamin like a Flinstone would recommend a half vitamin to a full. At her next check up her mom might ask the doctor about his recommendations for vitamins. I think they make them as gummy Flinstones which kids might like better. Also, they must be for children, you may want to get the ones without iron. And, if you don’t trust her mother to keep them out of your daughters reach I would think twice about buying them because they look like candy and an overdose of them wouldn’t be good especially if there is iron in them, iron is very dangerous in high doses.

JLeslie's avatar

@whiteliondreams The GI bill for education can now be given to a child dependent if the soldier himself doesn’t use it. If you do go into the service you may want to look up the details regarding it.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@JLeslie regarding my GI Bill, that is what I am using right now to go through college. I will see more about the vitamins considering she is due vaccination soon before going to pre-K. Thanks again!

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