Thursday, June 16, 2011

What should I be teaching him?

In my last post I mentioned attending a former student's graduation party far from my home. Well, it just so happens that I also have some good friends who live in the same area. One of my friends is someone I grew up with and the other is an old high school classmate. Both of them have children, and they are both great fathers. I got into a discussion with my old high school buddy John about parenting. Though I don't have children of my own, I feel I do have something to share about parenting since I have interacted with over 1000 children in my life so far as a teacher.

His son is one and a half years old, and he was wondering how much he could actually be teaching him now in his life. I read somewhere that children learn more during ages 0-2 than they do in any other stage of their lives. That being said, I've also learned that you shouldn't try to force too much on them since they may not be developmentally ready yet. We discussed the importance of teaching his son the names of different household items, colors, numbers, etc. when the opportunities arise. Also we talked about how it is good to play matching games and other games where learning can occur. But most importantly we decided that loving his son and making sure that all of his essential needs are being met, is perhaps the best way to be teaching him at this time. The ultimate lesson he needs to teach his son is that he is loved!

And that got me thinking. Our discussion made me reflect on how I should be teaching my own students. I need to make sure there needs are being met, they are feeling loved or cared for, and I am not trying to teach them lessons they are not developmentally ready for. Now, I may not be able to completely provide students with the love and affection they need in their lives, but I can at least show them I care. The hard part is figuring out the balance. I want to challenge my students, but I don't want to push them beyond what they are capable of. I suppose the same holds true for parenting, though parents have a much more intimate and complete relationship with their children. This relationship allows them to really know the talents and abilities their children have. I only see my students for about an hour, five times a week, so I am a bit limited.

Nonetheless, I hope to start the next school year by learning what needs of my students are not being met. And then, I will need to aggressively figure out what I can do for them - all of them! I believe this will build a trust, and it will ultimately show my students I really do care!  

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