Lessons learned at United Way helped with baby

I missed my monthly column last month because a big life event, the birth of my son. Harrison David Emmett Walsworth entered the world and my life April 13. As all parents know, adding a child to your family changes many things.

After the initial adjustment to the lack of sleep, I have started to think about how to raise a child in todayís world. I wonder how he will he perform in school. Will he be a good student or will academics be hard for him? Will he make friends? Most of all, I think about what my fiancee and what I can do to help him be successful.

One of the many things Iíve learned at United Way is how important early childhood care and education is to a childís future. I knew this already because of my work and the support United Way provides to local early childhood programs, but now the information has taken on new meaning.

Studies show that children who score advanced or proficient in math and reading in the third and fourth grade are much more likely to be successful in life than children who score lower. Kids who are behind can and do catch up because of the great work of our local schools and teachers, and because of families who are able to invest the extra time needed. My task as a parent is to make sure that my son is at the appropriate levels when he reaches this critical time.

I plan to turn every moment possible into a learning opportunity. Simple things like asking your child when shopping at the grocery store what color a bottle of shampoo is, or how many eggs are in the container, are ways to incorporate learning into daily, mundane tasks.

I also plan to read to him and get him to read as early as possible. In fact, my fianceeís daughter is already reading books to him. This is great on many levels, including the free time that gives to his mother and me.

I recall as a child that my mom drilled me on math with round after round of flash cards. When I was in school, I always performed well in math, and I credit the extra work my mom did as part of my success. I plan to incorporate this into my sonís early learning.

I also have been thinking a lot about values. How do you teach right and wrong? I believe some values are inherent in our DNA and are part of being human while other things need to be taught. The golden rule is a tenant I live by Ė treat others as you wish to be treated. This will be another guiding principle I will try to instill in my son.

I also hope to raise my son to value the things that we in Southwest Colorado value. We love our communities, we do what we can to help our neighbor when bad things occur and we try to live healthy, productive, aware and involved lives. I canít think of a better place to raise my boy, and I look forward to introducing him to you soon.

Tim Walsworth is president and CEO for United Way and a member of the Durango High Noon Rotary Club.