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Certified PreK-6. Masters in Child Development. Advocate for play, teacher & children choice, & the family's voice. Believe in volunteering as social justice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

To the Parents of the Wonderful Little People

A member of my learning network on Twitter (the wonderful @happycampergirl) has posed the question, "What do you wish parents knew?"  Teachers from across the grades and spanning the globe have answered her, see what they said, and I have chosen to answer her here in the context of my playful little blog.

Speaking as a preschool teacher, a nanny, and an early learning specialist, there are a few things that I wish parents knew.

I wish you knew how competent and creative your children are and to embrace their unique spirit rather than looking to compare them to one an other.  

I wish that you would allow them the opportunity to take risks and make mistakes for that is how they will grow.

I wish you knew that the children are always listening and watching and what you say and do is always caught by them, even when you think they are not paying attention.  And they will share your secrets with me and everyone else in the room and will mimic your behavior.

I wish that you would stop giving your child empty praise because a litany of meaningless "wows", "good job", and "amazings" will not retain any value and instead please notice and remark upon the things that your child is doing so that they will understand what it is they are doing that pleases you and will learn to internalize their own self praise.

I wish that you would believe me when I tell you that your child will learn to read, they will learn to write, and they will develop the academic skills.  There is time for that as they approach elementary school.  Right now, in preschool and at home, they need to play.  They need to explore.  They need to find joy in learning.  They need to learn how to communicate their ideas, desires, emotions.  They need to be able to function within a group of children.  Please stop insisting that I teach them to read and instead respect their play, their development, and all that they are learning.

I wish that we work together as partners and that you respect the experiences I have with your child and what these tell me about them, and I promise to respect the experiences that you have with your child and what those tell you about them.  And I wish that we have open and respectful communication knowing that we both want the very best for the child.

And most of all, I wish that you would lay off of yourselves.  No parent, teacher, nanny, is perfect.  We all make mistakes, but we all love the children and we are all doing what we believe is the best for the children.  Do what you feel is best, ask for help and support, but don't judge yourself against other parents.  

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