RAISING SMART KIDS
I get messages from peeps about raising kids… asking for advice on how to raise smart children.
I am humbled by this – oh fuck that, I’m not humbled. I think I have done a good job with mine. My kids are not loud or sociable in the Nigerian sense of “cool kids”. They are quiet when people are around, they observe, they are hard to impress, they have no care for a lot of things, and they live in their heads. There’s a lot going on there. And it is important that I make them understand this is ok.
There are no obstacles around them – no religion, no cultural BS. Just books and conversation.
So here is what I think I can share from my grind as a single parent:
Buy your children books to read and get them to READ!
I can’t reiterate this enough. You must have children who are readers else you are waisting your damn time and theirs on this green earth.
Get them books full of magic, fiction, mystery and colour. If they do nothing else, they MUST read.
My girls have read over 200 books. And I see how these books inspire them to be better in every way.
When Jolade wasn’t doing so well in primary one, I didn’t get her home schooling or pay for extra lessons. I called my friend, Teetee, and I ordered books from her store in the UK to courier down to me.
Loads and loads of Enid Blyton and other titles I can’t even remember.
They binged on books and lived on the pages of sentences.
If you don’t let your kids read when they are young, you are going to have a bunch of people with lovely slay pictures who can’t hold original thoughts and opinions on anything.
In other words, you will pollute this world with average, tiring beings that add very little to the conversation the world is having.
Amanpour is a reader. Oprah is a reader.
In Nigeria, what we do is try to get some kind of money, sprinkle some tinsel on our brand and hope, in some ways, our upper-class pretention will cover up for our lack of sense. So we have beautiful pictures, well contoured cheekbones, gorgeous wardrobe… but we write rubbish – sounding off pedestrian bullshit.
There is no escape for the one who refuses to read. None.
Enlightenment glows. You see it in the eyes. Look in the eyes, there you will find knowledge or lack of it.
So the first thing you must introduce to your child is the ability to read fiction. And you must answer every question they bring to you. If you must consult Google, then you do it together.
Fiction is great because it preseves the magic every human being must have. We lose it quickly in Nigeria because religion is spiteful. The first thing religion does is try to keep you afraid. If you live in fear, magic will not visit your heart. You are either going to introduce your child to vigils OR you will introduce them to a world that is compelling and fascinating with a bit of imaginary/supernatural wonder.
It is up to you.
I strongly believe my introduction of fiction is the reason they can navigate through academics so easily… change schools and still become champions, claiming first position in both classes – first and second terms, without having to suffer the emotional strain that comes from changing environment.
Why? Because their imagination is alive! It has never been ridiculed or diminished. Definitely not by me. I allow them to dream anything in their heads and never be ashamed to share with me, not matter how ridiculous it may sound. I listen, I smile and I make my kind contribution.
My goal is to make sure my girls read 3,000 books before they turn 18. I have introduced them to my own library, at least some books that appeal to that age.
Wealth of knowledge is the greatest wealth of all. And anything that tries to diminish its greatness will never make it into my home.
After you succeed in making them develop a reading habit, steer them towards writing. Make them keep a diary of their their thoughts and every day activities for starters. Reading opens up a world of escape for the reader. Writing helps a writer create an entire universe of escape. Reading fills your head with demons and writing helps you exorcise them. Reading immerses you in baptismal water and writing resurrects you. Reading makes you a creature. Writing makes you the creator. There is nothing that develops a young mind better than reading and writing.
I hope this helps.