What Will Your Child Teach You Today?
I have always admired people in my life who can balance art and science. Creativity and logic. Passion and precision. As adults who nurture young children, we also need balance in order to parent or teach with both our hearts and our minds.
The best parents and teachers are always a blend of science and spirituality. They understand the child’s mission to connect his soul with the outer world because they are striving to do the same. When an adult can extend their observational skills with wisdom, use silence with sensitivity, or humble themselves by accepting their own gifts but continuing to learn, they are blending the knowledge they have learned from the world with what is already inside their hearts. They are Aware Adults, and every child who has one or two is lucky beyond measure.
My Big Lesson
Watching children is almost always entertaining, but if you do it well enough, you can “see” what is not obvious. The coded messages that behavior sends can be lost or misread unless there is a dash of detective in the mix. Detectives try to obtain evidence or unknown information in a scientific way, but they also use their intuition. Things are not always as they appear…
Years ago, I cared for a dear 14 month old girl who had been walking for several weeks. Suddenly one morning she got into everything she wasn’t supposed to, and was determined to return to the objects immediately even after I had removed her from the area and given her something appropriate to play with. This was unlike her! I assumed she was “testing” me, and I certainly didn’t want to fail. I knew I needed to be consistent yet kind about taking her away from the objects. Then I thought it would be better if I just removed the objects or shut the doors so that we wouldn’t get into a game of “chase.”
Aha! Then I suddenly understood the message her behavior was giving me. She wasn’t testing out new behaviors at all. The objects she was returning to had a clear theme: the dog’s dish, the toilet, and a pitcher of drinking water I had left on a low shelf—all water!
I quickly dashed around getting a towel, basin and measuring cups out of my cupboards. I set up a water activity for her and sat on the floor and watched her gleefully splash, drink, and pour the water for at least 20 minutes without looking up once! Such a focused learning experience for both of us!
I learned that it wasn’t about me, and it wasn’t about rules. It was about her. She picked that day to learn about water, and I listened.
My Oldest Son
My oldest son has a family of his own now. He and his wife are busy with 3 active boys and two careers. The youngest boy turned 5 years old last September. The thing is that Dylan is always trying to keep up. His birthday falls right after his two older brothers, and it’s not easy to maintain the same energy for the third birthday celebration within eight weeks. They had a nice neighborhood party though, and everyone was happy.
One week after the birthday party, my son and his wife did something that made me proud beyond words because I saw them Follow Their Son. Their garage is already filled with all of the ride on vehicles that have accumulated as the boys grew into and out of different styles of scooters and bikes. Dylan’s current bike had training wheels, and had been well used by his brothers.
My son wrote,
“So in a few days Dylan went from a small training wheel bike to a larger bike, to riding the boys bikes. So last night he got a big bike of his own!”
No one told Dylan to wait for Christmas or use his brothers old bike until next summer. It was about him. He picked that day to learn to ride a two wheeler, and his parents listened.
…should you choose to accept, is to blend in. Get quiet, sit still on the floor, and carefully observe a child in your life. Many of us have trouble doing this, by the way. The power of silence requires great mental and physical restraint.
Can we stay quiet when a child accidentally knocks over their blocks, spills their drink, or makes a decision we know they will regret?
When a child is deeply concentrating and repeating a skill, their surroundings are their teachers. We need not say a word. Let the blocks, the water, and the bike speak to them.
Maria Montessori said,
Freeing the child to learn through his own efforts is the true beginning of early education.