A Parents Role in their Child’s Education
According to the Reggio Emelia approach, parents are a child’s first teachers. Followed by their teachers and educators, thirdly by the environment. Nobody knows your child as well as you do. You are an expert on your child, as early childhood educators, we are experts on child development. It is essential that we work together to ensure the best outcomes for children. Collaborative partnerships are critical.
One of the most important things you can do for your child’s education is to read together. Reading is the foundation children will need to succeed in other school subjects and also later life. Reading with your children not only fosters strong relationships through sharing this time together, but also instils in your children a love for storytelling, an understanding that letters are symbols and a passion for books which will always serve them well. Don’t be afraid to get silly and put on voices, make sock puppets to accompany your story or sing along to the story.
Allow your children time to ‘be’. We are all living such busy lives and the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to slow down a little and ‘be’. Try and carve out time during the weekend or week where your child can be in their safe space at home to tap into their own creativity through occupying themselves. Living in such a busy society can often mean that we are setting a tone for instant gratification and a need to constantly be busy. Perhaps this is something we could work on role modelling for our children. Let’s not rush their childhood’s away.
Encourage your children to be curious. Allow them to watch the washing machine to figure out how it fills with water, allow them to throw balls from the deck as they test gravity and momentum, allow them to ask the 289 ‘why’ questions each day as they explore the world around them. Children are forming lifelong dispositions in their childhood. It is curious people that change the world.
Teach your children to be compassionate. Children do not tend to abide to social norms that adults do, though they tend to also ask questions out of genuine curiosity rather than asking from a place of malice. I can recall when my son was around 4 years old and we were on an escalator in front of two short statured people. When my son turned around and saw them his jaw dropped and his eyes were the size of saucepans. He turned to me and said rather loudly “Mum! They’re so short! Look how short they are!” After I gathered myself from turning red with embarrassment, I thought to myself “Well yeah, they are really short”. He wasn’t attempting to insult or offend anyone, he just noticed a difference. I said to him “Yes, you’re right. She has the same hair colour as you. Would you like to say hello?” We exchanged a short conversation and our two new friends were more than happy to say hello to my son. Often prejudices can come from a lack of knowledge and fear of the unfamiliar. Lead by example and encourage your children to arm themselves with knowledge, ask the questions and lead with love in their hearts.
Children often get this very incorrect perception that as parents we are perfect. I know for me, this is certainly not the case. Allow your children to see that you also make mistakes and role model how you rectify those mistakes. This can support your children’s self-confidence as they understand it is completely normal to make mistakes. If you have done something as an adult to upset someone, apologise and allow your child to see it. Let them see and understand the importance of saying sorry and truly meaning it. This can assist in fostering a sense of empathy.
I know for myself I always feel a little sad when I see my kids are growing up and need me less and less. However, as parents it is our duty to foster our children’s sense of agency and autonomy. Allow them to do things for themselves. Let them make mistakes. Stand back for a minute and see if they can figure out, for example, that their bike isn’t moving because there is a stick on the ground, stand back and allow them to resolve a conflict with their sibling, stand back and allow them to climb on the rocks at the park if they’re feeling confident to do so. Even if they fall, it’s the getting back up that counts. This is where resilience is created.
When you combine these traits with a high-quality early childhood service, children thrive. It is essential to work collaboratively to ensure the best outcomes for children in a constantly changing society.