Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Best Teacher for your Child

This one is for the parents out there.  You've known your child longer than anyone else.  You shared your child's joys, smiles, laughter, tears, successes, mistakes, boo-boos, fears, and illnesses.  You know your child's favorite color, favorite breakfast, favorite bedtime story, and secret dreams and plans.  There is no one who knows your child as well as you do!

You are your child's first and best teacher.  Before children can talk they observe the world and the people around them.  They take in your voice, your scent, your touch.  When you look into an infant's eyes, they look deeply in yours.  I have observed that if the adult waits for the infant to break eye contact, the eye to eye connection can last for many minutes.  Let the infant be the one to break the eye contact when he or she is ready. This is an infant's way of learning about their world. 

As the child grows and develops ways to communicate, think about how you communicate with others.  Children will emulate their role models.  Teach your child to say "Please" and "Thank you" but then be sure to use those words yourself. 

Teaching children to not interrupt is an important skill for school.  Do you allow your child to speak to you in the middle of a conversation you are having with someone else?  Do you interrupt each other at the dinner table?  Modeling and teaching children to wait for a break in the conversation is very useful.  I always tell students that they can interrupt me if it is an emergency.  An emergency constitutes someone in danger.

When your child reaches school age the recognition of and respect for boundaries is necessary.  A boundary is an invisible border so this is a difficult lesson to master.  Children need to observe a situation before entering it.  For example, when 2 people are having a conversation and you want to get to the other side of the room, walk around the conversation and not through the middle.  Example #2, teach children to ask permission from their siblings before using one of their belongings and then to return it after they are finished.  Example #3, knock on closed doors before entering.  Boundaries may not be apparent until you spend a moment observing the situation.  Take a look at how you respond to the boundaries in your family.

As your child reaches the age where he or she is learning to read, think about your reading habits.  Does your child see you read?  Is there a family reading time when you turn off phones, TV and computers and read?  Reading time does not have to last for hours, when beginning start with 10 or 15 minutes.  You may read to your child, or have all the readers take turns. Modeling reading is a vital part of learning to read.

Playing games with children is important to their social development.  Taking turns, following rules, being a good loser, and being a good winner can all be modeled during a game. 

Children are observers and learn more from our actions than from our words.  Let your child observe the best in you.

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