Today I drove an hour from home to my sister’s house to spend time with my Nephew, while his parents went out and had some much-needed time just the two of them. My Nephew is 8 months old. It has been such a joy and honestly so nice to get back to all things baby. Observing him as he has grown and gained new skills has been a re awaking to all thing’s child development.
My youngest child is 6 years old. It’s been many years since I have had a baby around to sit and observe for more than just a few hours at a time. I spend all my time with preschoolers. As I sat watching him, everything came rushing back to me, what it felt like to have my babies, what it felt like to have daycare babies in my care all day every day. I started to remember all of those things one forgets when there are no babies around anymore.
Let me say this, as a doctoral student currently enrolled in a class focused on the early years, resilience, brain developments and genetics, and outside influences on development it was AMAZING to sit and observe everything I am writing papers on; wrapped up in a cute little bundle whom I love desperately. As I sit and play with him, as I think of things to do with and say to him, I look around at his environment, and think about the experiences my sister and her husband are providing for him, It’s magical to know that all of these things are shaping who he will become.
As a parent of my own three children, yes, I did think of this at the time with my own babies, but that was through the lens of a parent, now I am thinking like a teacher and researcher!
To truly understand a preschooler, and to teach them, you must always consider their first experiences from birth to the time they walk into your classroom. Everything they have gone through, the people around them, the attention they did or did not receive, their genetics, make them who they are. To be effective and support them these are the thoughts a teacher must have in the back of their mind, when teaching and planning.
For instance, we have a young lady who’s 4 and she just had a baby brother over the weekend. She’s now had a major change in her household, her schedule is disrupted, she’s getting less attention, she’s having to share her parents. There’s NOTHING wrong with that. But for her this is a new experience, this has changed who she is, and who she will become. So, when she walked into class, and was not herself, being quiet, reserved, a but withdrawn, I knew what was wrong. We didn’t need to talk about it. I walked over picked her up, sat her in my lap and just hugged her. After a long hug, I told her how much I loved having her at school with me and loved her smile. She beamed at me, and said I love you too. She spent the rest of class giggling and smiling. She was herself again. I reminder her she was loved, she could trust me, that nothing at her school had changed, that school was her space, and she had no stress or worries here.
Observing her, and seeing the changes in her, after this new life experience, reaffirmed just how much, one thing can change who we are. I was seeing the effect of change right before my eyes. One thing I always try to keep in mind as a teacher is that everything I say, everything I do, the environment I create and the choices I make, quite literally affect and change who my students turn out to be. My work is life altering! At the end of the day, I want others to understand this too, to keep this in mind, as they parent or teach. Children are watching, model only great things for them!
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